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LONDON : HAl/lILTOl^ ADA^MS ir 0° 

Days of Deer- Stalking 


Including an Account of the Nature and Habits of the Red Deer 

a Description of the Scottish Forests, and Historical 

Notes on the Earlier Field-Sports of Scotland. 

With Highland Legends, Superstitions, Traditions, Folk-Lore, and 
Tales of Poachers and Freebooters. 


William Scrope, Esq. 

Author of "Days and Nights of Salmon Fishing" 




Among the works published in connection with field-sports in Scot- 
land, probably none have been more sought after than those two most 
interesting books by Mr. Scrope, namely, "Days of Deer- Stalking" 
and " Days and Nights of Salmon Fishing," and yet it may be said 
that no works in that departments of Uterature have been more 
difficult to get. Indeed, their scarcity has been so great as fre- 
quently, when inquired for, to cause the remark, that it is almost in 
vain to go in^quest of either. Again, when copies do happen to come 
into the market, they command such prices as to startle persons of 
moderate ideas, notwithstanding the very high interest and intrinsic 
value attaching to them. Such considerations have suggested the 
repubhcation of the first named book. Since its original issue some 
changes have taken place with regard to minor matters, but the great 
scope of the work is as interesting and fascinating as ever. The 
points of interest are exceedingly varied in character, and meet the 
tastes of a wide circle. Whether one's bent leads in the direction of 
field-sports, natural history, topography, antiquities, or historical 
lore in connection with the Highlands in general, the reader, more 
especially if he be interested in Scottish incident, will find a charm 
and a source of interesting information in the volume not surpassed 
in such respects by any work of the kind. 

m31 5^451 


" Shall a poaching, hunting, hawking 'squire presume to 
trespass on the fields of literature ?" These words, or 
others of similar import, I remember to have encountered 
in one of our most distinguished reviews. They ring still 
in my ears, and fill me with apprehension as it is ; but 
they would alarm me much more if I had attempted to 
put my foot within the sacred enclosures alluded to. These 
are too full of spring traps for my ambition, and I see 
" this is to give notice " written in very legible characters, 
and take warning accordingly. 

Literature ? — Heaven help us ! — far from it ; I have no 
such presumption ; I have merely attempted to describe a 
very interesting pursuit as nearly as possible in the style 
and spirit in which I have always seen it carried on. Ten 
years' successful practice in the forest of AthoU have 
enabled me to enter into all the details that are connected 
with deer-stalking. That it is a chase which throws all 
our other field-sports far in the back-ground, and, indeed 
makes them appear wholly insignificant, no one who has 


been initiated in it will attempt to deny. The beautiful 
motions of the deer, his picturesque and noble appearance, 
his sagacity, and the skilful generalship which can alone 
ensure success in the pursuit of him, keep the mind in a 
constant state of pleasurable excitement. 

Those arts which are the most successful for killing the 
stag will apply to almost all other wild quadrupeds of the 
nobler sort ; and a correct acquaintance with them might 
possibly be the means of saving many an adventurer's life, 
whose actual sustenance, and that of his companions, 
depended on his skill in hunting. In exploring unknown 
regions for the advancement of science, or cast, as men may 
be, on a desolate shore, how necessary, how^ indispensable, 
is a knowledge of the huntsman's craft for the actual 
preservation of existence ! And yet, in such travels as I 
have read, I have never seen this craft fully explained, the 
adventurer having been under the guidance of the natives, 
and for the most part a novice in the business. 

In my narrative of deer-stalking I have not, except in 
one instance, noted my best success — far from it. My 
aim has been to confine myself to such events as I thought 
best calculated to illustrate a diversion, which all sports- 
men, who have the means in their power, are now pursuing 
with unabating ardour. 


I have thouMit it desirable to describe the motions of the 
red deer under every variety of pursuit and danger to 
them ; to set forth their great sagacity and self-possession ; 
their courage and noble bearing ; the bay ; the method in 
which they are prepared for being taken home ; and many 
particulars relating to their natural history and habits. 

I have attempted also to illustrate all the essential points 
that occur in stalking deer, both in slow and quick time, 
and to describe all the various turns and accidents of the 
chase drawn from actual experience. This, I thought, 
could be best done by the recital of moderate sport, since a 
lonor catalogue of deer, killed in succession on the same 
day, unaccompanied by some striking or unusual incident, 
would only be a tedious repetition of events similar to 
each other. In practice, however, I did my best, as fine 
venison was always in request. If my success was occa- 
sionally very considerable, it must be recollected that the 
deer were numerous, and that I was assisted by clever 
scouts. The being my own stalker, also, was an advantage 
that long practice enabled me to profit from : no one, 
I think, can make the best of events when his move- 
ments are controlled by others, and are a mystery to 

To the courtesy of the noblemen and gentlemen, pro- 


prietors of the various magnificent deer forests in Scotland, 
I am indebted for the short descriptions I have given of 
them, and they are inserted nearly as I received them, 
with a due and lasting sense of the honour and obligation 
that has been conferred upon me ; the account of the forest 
of Atholl alone has been put together wholly by myself ; 
with that I am pretty conversant, but not with the others. 
Whilst I am on. this subject, I cannot avoid expressing a 
regret that the communications sent to me have not done 
sufficient justice to the scenery they treat of, which in its 
wild effect, and peculiar determination of character, is 
admirably suited to the disposition and pursuits of its 
brave and romantic inhabitants. 

It will be seen how much I am indebted to Mr. Macneill, 
of Colonsay, for his very interesting account of the original 
Scotch greyhound, and for his picturesque description of 
the novel amusement of deer-coursing. I am myself 
unacquainted with the distinguishing characteristics of the 
ancient Scotch and Irish greyhound; but there are still 
many magnificent dogs in the possession of Scotch gentle- 
men and chiefs, however they may be descended; and a 
late celebrated sale will prove how highly some of the 
present breed are esteemed by the public. 

I have to boast of two poetical contributions, from the 


Hon. Henry T. Liddell, which appear to me to be exquisitely 
beautiful. Mr. D'Israeli likewise has ornamented my pages 
with some beautiful lines, paraphrased from a translation 
from the Gaelic, most obligingly sent to me by the Marquis 
of Breadalbane. 

To my accomplished friend Mr. Skene, of Rubislaw, 1 am 
under very great obligations, not only for some valuable 
communications from himself, but also for other intelligence 
which I have obtained by his means, and through his 

The Duchess Countess of Sutherland has condescendingly 
procured for me a full account of her magnificent possessions 
in the North, which has been most ably put together by 
Mr. Taylor, to whose skill and diligence I am greatly 
indebted. I wish my limits had permitted me to publish 
the whole of his interesting document ; but I have inserted 
the most essential parts of it, in detached places, where I 
thought they would be most effective, and I beg to offer 
my best thanks for them. 

A word or two I should add about the languaoje I have 
put into the mouths of the hillmen. It is neither the 
Highland nor Lowland dialect, but such, I believe, as is 
spoken in Perthshire. The English, which the natives of 


this country have, is daily improving by their intercourse 
with sportsmen and their followers from the South, and 
they now intermix their sentences with many words spoken 
as correctly as they are in any part of England. 

The superstitions and traditions which form some portion 
of the following pages, being current in the country, have 
probably found their way into other publications ; of this 
I know nothing — it may or may not be so — I can only 
say that I had them from the best authorities, and from 
the fountain-head. It has come, however, to my know- 
ledge, since I have sent these pages to the press, that the 
trial of Duncan Terig has been mentioned in Sir W. Scott's 
Demonology. Had I known this before, I should not 
perhaps have dwelt so long upon the story, interesting 
as it is. 

As to the graphic illustrations of the sport, I am happy 
to say that I have had the benefit of the talents of two 
most eminent gentlemen of the same family; the fron- 
tispiece and vignette are from the celebrated hand of 
Edwin Landseer. The figures and animals in the litho- 
graphs are, with one exception only, drawn by Charles 
Landseer, author of " The Parting Benediction," and other 
well-known splendid works. The exception is the plate 
which represents the " Looking for a Wounded Deer," for 


the whole of which, as well as for the landscape part, in 
every subject introduced, the author alone is responsible. 
They are not correct views, but only general recollections 
of the forest scenery. None of the figures are intended 
for portraits. 



Descriptive character of the red deer — Royal harts — Shedding and page 
renewal of the horns — Weight of deer — Donald MacKay's 
deer-trap — Rutting season — Combats of stags — Deer stalked 
while fighting — Calving of hinds — Shyness and defensive 
instincts of deer — The hay — Traditional longevity — Red deer 
venison — Sir Walter Scott's Letter — Singular instance of a 
stag's ferocity — Deer-drive in Atholl in 1563 — Hunting the 
stag — Deer-stalking, . 25 


Start from Blair Castle — Bruar Lodge — A comrade- joins — Ascent 
of Ben Dairg — Ptarmigans — Forest scenery — Spirit-stirring 
interest — A hart discovered — Manoeuvring — Wading a burn 
— Getting a quiet shot — Dogs slipped — The bay in a moun- 
tain cataract — Dogs in peril — Death and gralloching of the 
deer — Cruel death of a deer-hound — Origin and antiseptic 
property of peat bogs — Ascent of Ben-y-venie — A herd dis- 
covered — Plan and manoeuvring — Alarm and movements of 
the deer — An injudicious shot — A successful one — A deer- 
hound slipped — Bay — Strange adventure — A wild huntsman 
Encounter with a bear — Loss of a huge salmon — Tiie Gown- 
cromb of Badenoch and his story, 53 


Forests of Badenoch, their rights and divisions — Legend of Prince 
Charles — Cluny Macpherson — Adventure with a wolf — Mac- 
pherson of Braekally — Children lost on a moor — Sportsmen 
benighted — Witchcraft — Uncomfortable position — Fraser's 
cairn — Boundaries of Gawick — Fate of Walter Gumming — 
Wrath of a fairy — Destructive avalanche — Convivial resolu- 
tion — Arrival at Bruar Lodge during the night-storm, . 99 


Necessary qualifications for a deer-stalker — Curious attitudes re- 
quired — Sleep almost superfluous — Advantages of baldness — 
Self-possession indispensable — Abstinence from drinking, 
and restrictions in food — Gormandiser's x^a^stime — Royal 


diversion — Sportsman's pliilosoplay — George Ritchie the page 
fiddler — Crafty movements — Currents of air — Passing diffi- 
cult ground — Range of the rifle — Firing at the target — 
Tempestuous winds — A tyro's distress — Overwhelming 
kindness — Of speed and wind — John Selwyn — Wilson the 
historian — Glengary, 112 


A Scotch mist — Visions of auld lang syne — Retrospect — The mist 
clears — How to carry the spare rifles — Storm in the moun- 
tains — Sportsmen struck by a thunderbolt — "Willie Robert- 
son's lament — Macintyre's death — Deer seen on the move — 
Vamped up courage — Making a dash — Unexpected success — 
Dogs fighting, 130 


The forest of AthoU — Probable number of deer, and their size — 
Cumyn's cairn — Highland vengeance — Fatal accident — 
Principal glens — Glen Tilt — Marble quarries — Roe deer — 
Lakes and lodges — Merry foresters — Forest song — Cuirn- 
Marnick — Last execution at Blair — Arrest of a murderer — 
Royal feasting and hunting — Palace in the forest, and 
Highland cheer — Burning of the palace — Kilmavonaig beer 
— Cumming's death — Belief in witchcraft — M. G. Lewis's 
legendary tale of the Witch of Ben-y-gloe, .... 142 


Deer drive to Glen Tilt — Anticipated sport — The deer- stalker's 
rhymes — The start from Bruar Lodge — Combat of stags — 
Cautious exploring — Stalking the great Braemar hart — The 
shot and bay — Preparation for driving the deer — Dalnacardoc 
chamois — A French sportsman — The ambuscade, skirmish, 
and slaughter — Shot at the black deer — The party assembled 
The last hart brought to bay — The bay broken — The death- 
shot— A carpet knight — Condoling with a victim — TheCount's 
adventure — Chase and capture of a poacher — A quiet shot — 
Granting a favour — Termination of the day's sport, . . 166 


Forest contracts — Wandering poachers — English vagabonds — 
Adventure at Felaar — Highland vampire — Peter Breck's 
backsliding — Trap baited with whiskey — The Gaig pet stolen 
— Poacher's adventure — Desolate stituation — A Highland 
witch — Chisholm's cave — Freebooter's life — John More — 
Sutherland monster — A priest in jeopardy — Highland Robin 
Hood — Our-na-kelig — The widow's hospitality — Rival 


poachers in AthoU — Adventure in Glen Tilt — Eob Doun — page 
Curious trial for murder — A polyglot ghost — Ghost no 
lawyer, 191 


Broad awake — Arrangements for the day — A ticklish point — 
Serpentine movements — Disappointment — White kid gloves 
— Contest of skill — Escape of the deer — Good sport — Close 
combat — A ride on a stag — Kemarkable prowess — Contest 
with a phoca — The drive begins — Shots and untoward acci- 
dent — Corrie's sagacity and night watch — The coup d'essai — 
Past deeds — Eagles killed by a boy — Driving the herd — 
Legend of Eraser's cau-n — The Lord of Lovat's Raid — Strong 
taint of deer — Nervous excitement — Ambuscade at the wood 
— Noble sport — The old Blair pony — Return to the castle, . 215 


Original Scotch greyhound — Fingal and his retinue — Bran and 
Phorp — Their death — The lurcher — Glengarry's dogs — Of 
blooding deer-hounds — Four-footed Hannibal — Sir Wilham 
St. Clair's dogs, 241 


Occupation of Forest Lodge — Autumnal blasts — Sullen fuel — 
The sport begins — Deer-stalker distressed — A sharp walk — 
Lying in ambush — The fatal spot reached — Herd in jeopardy 
— Peter Fraser's humanity — His penmanship — The lament 
—The moors, 249 


Dogs of ancient Britain — Irish dogs sent to Rome — Early Scot- 
tish dogs — Sculptured stones at Meigle — the Miol-chu — The 
mastiff and greyhound — Recreation of Queen Elizabeth — 
Dogs of Epirus — Irish wolf-dog — Proportions of a deer-hound 
— Failure of crosses in breeding — Deer dogs of Colonsay, 
and dimensions of Buskar — Expedition from Colonsay — 
Cavern scene — Wild scenery in Jura — Stag discovered — 
Stalking him — The start and course — His death — Speed and 
bottom of deer-hounds — Decay of the ancient race, . . 260 


The Sutherland Forests. — Dirrie-Chatt and its boundaries — 
Forest of Dirrie-more, its character and limits — Number of 
deer — Deer dykes — Wolves in Sutherland — Death of the last 
wolf — Traditions of Fingal — Slaughter of a wild boar — 
Dermid and Grana — Angus BaiUie — The humble garron, . 279 


Forests and Deer-hamits in Boss-shire. — Gairlocli — Balnagown page 
Forest — Easter Ross, Calrossie, and Coigach — Isles of Harris 
and Lewis, 290 

Account of Coul. — Uncouth fire-arms, 293 

Forest of Apjplecross. — The Laird's sport, 295 

Forest of Glengarry, — Sagacity of a blood-hound — Wild work, . 297 

The Duke of Gordon's Deer Forests. — Glenfeshie — Gawick — 

Glenfiddich — Glenmore, etc., 298 

Forest of Invercauld, formerly royal — Weight of deer, etc., . 300 

Forest of Marr. — Wild boar and rein-deer — Battue of the olden 

time, 304 

Forest of Corrichibah. — Number and condition of deer — Mode 
of killing them — Translations from the GaeUc poetry of 
Duncan Macintyre — Spring in Bendouran — Lament for the 
deUoimist, 307 

Forest of Glenartney. — Boundaries — Weight of deer, etc., . 312 

The Forest of Jura. — Description of Tarbet — Deer crossing to 

Islay, etc., 313 

The Isle of Skye and North Uish. — Number of deer — Method of 

killing them, etc., 316 

Loch Etive and Dalness. — Tradition concerning a white hind — 

adventure and disastrous death of a poacher, etc., . . 316 

Highest Hills in the Forest of AthoU, 318 

Evidence relating to the Trial of Duncan Terig, alias Oierk, and 
Alexander Bain Macdonald, for the Murder of Sergeant 
Davies, 320 


1. Frontispiece— Fighting Harts— A Forest Joust. By | 

Edwin Landseer, .... 

2. Title-Vignette— Group of Dogs — Buscar, a Highland 

Deer-hound, of the original breed, belonging to ^^ , 

I precede 

Mr. MacNeill: a Fox-hound, Blood-hound, and ^^^ printed 

' Title. 

Greyhound — from crosses of which the modern 
Deer - hound is obtained — and a Tender. By 
Edwin Landseer, 

3. Getting a Quiet Shot, To face page 66 

4. Deer at bay in a Torrent, .... „ 70 

5. Looking for a Wounded Deer, ... „ 90 

6. Left behind in a Dubious Position, . . „ 126 

7. Lifting the Deer out of a Bum, ... ,, 142 

8. The Witch of Ben-y-gloe, .... „ 162 

9. East from Blair Castle, „ 166 

10. Coming in for a Shot, . . ^ . . . „ 174 

11. Shots from Caim-cherie, .... „ 224 

12. Preparing the Deer for being left on the Moor, „ 256 

My heart's in the Highlands, my heart is not here ; 

My heart's in the Highlands a hunting the deer ; 
A chasing the wild deer, and following the roe, 

My heart's in the Highlands wherever I go." 

— Old Song, 





Descriptive character of the red deer. — Royal harts.— Shedding and renewal of the horns. 
—Weight of deer.— Donald M'Kay's deer-trap.— Rutting season.— Combats of stags, 
— Deer stalked while fighting. — Calving of hinds. — Shyness and defensive instincts of 
deer.— The bay.— Traditional longevity. —Red deer venison.— Sir W. Scott's letter. — 
Singular instance of a stag's ferocity.— Deer-drive in AthoU in 1563.— Hunting the 
stag.— Deer-stalking. 

I am a hart by Greekes surnamed so, 
Because my head doth with their tearmes agree ; 
For stately shape few such on earth do goe, 
So that by right they have so termed me. 
For king's delight it seems I was ordayned, 
Whose huntsmen yet pursue me day by day, 
In forrest, chace, and parke, I am constrained 
Before their hounds to wander many a way. 
Wherefore who lyst to learne the perfect trade 
Of venerie, and therewith all would know 
What properties and virtues nature made 
In me poor hart (0 harmless hart !) to grow, 
Let him give ear to skilfull Trystram's lore 
To Phoebus, Fowylloux, and many more.* 

" Cervus Elaphus, cornihus ramosis, teretibus, recurvatis" 
— Linn. Eight cutting teeth in the upper jaw, and none in 
the lower. 

Stags are found in all the northern regions, Lapland, 
perhaps, excepted ; in Asia, especially in Tartary, and in 
the northern provinces of China; they are also found in 
America. Those of Canada dilFer from ours only in the 
length of their horns, and direction of their antlers, which 
are not so straight as with us, but are turned backward, so 
that the end of each points to the stem of the horns. 

* The noble Art of Venerie, translated from the French, p. 39. 



The colour varies slightly, but is usually of a reddish 
brown, nearly black about the face, mingled with grey; 
a dark list down the hind part of the neck and between 
the shoulders, and a light sort of buff colour between the 
haunches and underneath. 

The horns vary in size and number of branches ; partly 
owing to the age of the animal, and partly from other 
causes ; and it must be remarked, that deer with few points 
to their horns are sometimes larger and fatter than those 
with many branches. In the forest of Atholl we had no 
technical names for harts of different ages; but they are 
thus distinguished by park-keepers, and by those gentlemen 
who keep stag-hounds in England : — 

Before deer are one year old they are called (male and 
female) Calves;* after one year old the male is termed a 
Brocket; at three, a Sjyire; at four, a Staggart; at five, a 
Stag; and at six a luarrantahle Stag. He may afterwards 
be called a Hart. The female, after one year old, is termed 
a Hearst ; and at three years old a young Hind. 

The female does not cohabit with the male till three 
years old. She never has more than one calf at a time, 
though the contrary opinion has been entertained. 

The stag's brow bay and tray antlers are termed his 
Rights; the upright points on the top of his horns are 
called Crockets ; the horn itself the Beam ; the width the 
Span ; the rough part of the base the Pearls.f 

A Brocket has only knobbers, and small brow antlers ; 
a Sjyire, brow and uprights; a Staggart, brow, tray, and 
uprights ; a five-year old, brow, bay, and tray ; two on top, 
that is, a crocket on one horn, and an upright on the other. 
A warrantable Stag has brow, bay, and tray, and two 
points on the top of both horns. After this age their heads 
vary very much in appearance. 

* Some limit the term of calf to six months only. 
t I am aware that these terms do not exactly correspond with those 
mentioned in all the old authorities, neither do the latter always accord 
with each other. I have taken my nomenclature from the Devonshire 
Hunt, as the best authority. It has been founded considerably above a 
century. Wriothesly, second Duke of Bedford, is the first person to whom 
it can be traced : he died at Tavistock, in 1711. There are about S13 deer 
in all the covers. Seventy were killed by the late Lord Graves in two 


If the impression of a deer's foot measures full two inches 
^t the heel, he is warrantable; if three inches, and the hoofs 
mark deeply in the ground, allowing for its nature, he is a 
large, heavy, old deer. Such bring up their hind feet to 
the impression made by their fore ones. 

The tread of a hind is much narrower and longer than 
that of the male, particularly at the toe, whilst the hart's is 
broad and round at that point, instead of being narrow. 

" Then, if he ask, what slot or view I found, 
I say the slot or view was long on ground ; 
The toes were great, the joynt bones round and short, 
The shinne bones large, the dew-claws close in port : 
Short joynted was he, hollow-footed eke, 
An hart to hunt as any man can seeke." — Art of Venerie. 

The mark of a deer's tread is called his slot; his haunt 
is termed his lair; where he lies down, his harbour or bed; 
where he rolls himself, his soiling pool ; his breaking place 
over a hedge, his rack; when he goes to water it is called 
going to soil ; if headed back, it is called blanched ; if he 
stops in a river, or lies down in a pool, during the chase, it 
is called sinking himself. 

Harts that are crowned with three points at the upper 
extremity of each horn are termed royal. 

We read, also, of the hart royal proclaimed. Manwood 
mentions a fact, which he found on record in the Castle 
of Nottingham : it is dated in the time of Richard I., who, 
having roused a hart in the forest of Sherwood, pursued 
him as far as Barnsdale in Yorkshire, where the animal 
foiled and escaped his hounds. The king, in gratitude for 
the diversion he had received, ordered him to be immediately 
proclaimed at Tickill, and at all the neighbouring towns, 
the purport of which was to forbid any one to molest him, 
that he might have free liberty to return to his forest. 

" Some gentlemen, in the time of Henry III., havino- 
<lestroyed a white hart, which had given the kino- much 
diversion (and which had probably been proclaimed), his 
majesty laid a heavy fine upon their lands, an acknowledg- 
ment of which was paid into the exchequer so late as the 
reign of Queen Elizabeth."* 

* Cam. Brit. p. 59. 


Hutchins, in his History of Dorsetshire, says, " It is paid 
to this day."* 

Deer shed their horns annually: the oldest harts shed 
them first, about the beginning of April ; the younger ones 
follow in succession, accordinor to their ao-e and condition. 
The new horns attain their full growth in three months, 
and appear about ten days after the old ones are shed. It 
is not very long since a hart fell under the close observance 
of a forester, whilst in the act of shedding his horns, in a 
forest in Sutherland. Whilst he was browsing, one of his 
antlers was seen to incline leisurely to one side, and imme- 
diately to fall down to the ground : the stag tossed up his 
head, as if in surprise, and began to shake it pretty violently, 
when the remaining antler was discarded also, and fell some 
little distance from him. Relieved from this weicrht, he 
expressed his sense of buoyancy by bounding high from 
the ground, as if in sport, and then, tossing his bare head, 
dashed right away in a confused and rapid manner. 

The shedding of the horns continues till the beginning of 
June ; but deer of a year old will carry them till August 
or September : these new horns are very sensitive, and the 
harts at this time avoid bringing them into collision with 
any substance. When they fight, they rear themselves 
upon their hind legs, and spar with their fore feet, keeping 
back their heads. They carry their horns just as long as 
the hind carries her fawn, which is eight months. They 
are not always shed at the same time, but one of them 
occasionally drops a day or two after the other. I myself 
have seldom found any other than single horns in the 
mosses of the forest. It is a remarkable fact, however,, 
that the number which are picked up in any forest bears 
no proportion to those which are shed; and this cannot 
arise from their being overlooked, for they are a valuable 
perquisite to the keepers, and there is no part of the forest- 
that is not traversed by them in the course of the season. 

What, then, becomes of them ? Hinds have been seen to 
eat them : one will consume a part, and, when she drops it, 
it will be taken up and gnawed by the others. The late 

* Vol. ii. p. 492. 


Duke of Atholl, indeed, once found a dead hind which had 
been choked by a part of the horn, that remained sticking 
in its throat. It is not, however, credible that all those 
which are missing are disposed of in this way ; they rather 
seem to be thus eaten from wantonness and caprice, — and I 
^m not able to account satisfactorily for their disappearance. 

The new horns which deer acquire annually are covered 
with a thick sort of leaden-coloured skin, which remains 
•on them till the deer are in good condition : it then begins 
to fall off, and, for a short space, hangs in shreds, ragged 
^nd broken ; but they remov^e it as quickly as they can, by 
raking their antlers in the roots of the heather, or in such 
branches of shrubs as they can find adapted to the purpose. 
When they have shaken off this skin, which is called the 
velvet, and which disappears in the months of August and 
September, they are said to have clean horns ; and, as these 
deer are in the best condition, they are the particular object 
of the sportsman. 

If a hart is cut vvhen a fawn, he will never have horns ; 
^nd if he is cut when five or six years old, after his horns 
have attained their full growth, he will never drop them ; 
and, if he be cut when he has dropped them, they will 
never be renewed. This is mentioned in Bulfon, and has 
been confirmed to me by Mr. John Crerer, who is a close 
observer of nature, and has had sixty years' experience in 
the forest of Atholl. But I once killed a very large fat 
hart on the top of Ben Dairg, in the month of September, 
which had not been cut, and still had no horns at all. 

I myself have often observed, that if a hart has one of 
his horns ill grown, and inferior to the other, he will, upon 
examination, be found to have a gun-shot, or some other 
bad wound, on the side where the horn is faulty. 

Many horns of the Cervus Elaphus have been found in 
peat bogs and shell marl; and, as these have the os frontis 
attached to them, they could not have been cast in the 
ordinary way; but must either have belonged to deer that 
died of old age or disease, or to such as might have been 
mired in endeavouring to land, where the bottom was soft 
and quaggy. Many, probably, have perished in this way, 
as the horns are generally found in an upright position. 


A vast quantity of these horns, and, indeed, whole skeletons 
of deer, have been found, within this last century, in the 
small lakes of Forfarshire.* Indeed, antlers and skeletons. 
of full grown stags are amongst the most common remains 
of animals in peat. Horns so found are infinitely larger 
than any which I have ever seen on living animals of the 
same species. 

It must be inferred, therefore, that the animals them- 
selves were likewise of very superior dimensions. At first 
sight this seems difficult to account for ; but when we take 
into consideration the altered circumstances of the country, 
— that immense tracts of wood have given place to barren 
bogs, in the manner explained by Mr. Lyell, and mentioned 
in the course of these pages, and that the deer have thus 
been limited in food and shelter, — we can no lono-er be at a 
loss to account for this degeneracy. 

The red deer is not a very hardy animal : he does not by 
choice subsist on coarse food, but eats close, like a sheep. 
With his body weakened and wasted during the rutting 
season in the autumn, exposed to constant anxiety and 
irritation, engaged in continual combats, he feels all the 
rigours of winter approaching before he has time to recruit 
his strength: — the snow-storm comes on, and the bitter 
blast drives him from the mountains. Subdued by hunger, 
he wanders to the solitary sheelings of the shepherds; and 
will sometimes follow them through the snow, with irresolute 
steps, as they are carrying the provender to the sheep. He 
falls, perhaps, into moss pits and mountain tarns, whilst in 
quest of decayed water plants, where he perishes prema- 
turely from utter inability to extricate himself. Many, 
again, who escape starvation, feed too greedily on coarse 
herbage at the first approach of open weather, which pro- 
duces a murrain amongst them, not unlike the rot in sheep, 
of which they frequently die. Thus, natural causes, insep- 
arable from the condition of deer in a northern climate, and 
on a churlish soil, unsheltered by woods, conspire to reduce 
these animals to so feeble a state, that the short summer 
which follows is wholly insufficient to bring them to the 
size they are capable of attaining under better management. 

* Vide Lyell's Geology, vol. ii. p. 259. 


If we look at the difference in size and weight of two 
three-year-old beasts, the one belonging to a good, and the 
other to a bad fanner, we shall find that difference to 
amount to nearly double. The first animal is well fed for 
the sake of the calf, both in winter and summer; and the 
last, from insufficient keep, loses in winter what it has 
gained in summer, and requires double the food in the 
succeeding season to restore it to what it was at the com- 
mencement of winter. Thus it is with the deer. 

As a proof of this position, I may mention, that such 
stags as have, for the most part, abandoned the Scotch 
mountains, and pastured in the large woods in the low 
country, have been found considerably to exceed the hill 
stags in size and condition. The late Duke of Atholl killed 
a hart that had been feeding for four seasons in the woods 
of Dunkeld, where he remained, with twelve others, during 
nine months of the year. He weighed thirty stone six 
pounds imperial as he stood. His horns weighed thirteen 
pounds two ounces; but they were still inferior to such as 
have been found buried in peat mosses. The fat on his 
haunches was four inches and one-eighth thick, though he 
was killed in July, much too early in the season to have 
arrived at his full condition. 

In the year 1836, an outlying stag was killed at Woburn, 
which weighed thirty-four stone imperial as he stood. 
These are much higher weights than are to be found in the 
forest of Atholl. 

In the forest of Glengarry, where the snow never lies 
long, where there is much rich pasture in the low grounds, 
sweet grass on the hill-tops, and large woods for shelter, 
the late Glengarry killed a hart, which weighed twenty-six 
stone after the gralloch or offal was taken out: now, allow- 
ing six stone six pounds for the gralloch (computing it at 
about one-fourth of the entire weight), this noble animal 
must have been thirty-two stone six pounds as he stood. 

From the accounts that have been sent to me from the 
various forests in Scotland, I am inclined to think that the 
average weight of the best deer in Sutherland is superior 
to that of the other forests. It reaches about fifteen stone, 
Dutch, sinking the offal ; and stags are occasionally killed 


of seventeen stone ; and, in the forest of Ben Hope, of a 
somewhat larger size. Now, Dutch weight reckons sixteen 
pounds to the stone, and seventeen ounces and a half to the 
pound ; so that adding the offal, and reducing the whole to 
imperial weight, a stag of fifteen stone Dutch would be 
about twenty-five stone imperial as he stands. 

In corroboration of what has been advanced above, as 
tp the starving condition of the Highland deer in severe 
weather, I shall mention a fact that happened about the 
end of the last century. 

One Donald M'Kay, a farmer, who lived in a remote glen 
on the estate of Reay, in Sutherland, received so much injury 
from the depredations of the forest deer, which made con- 
tinual inroads upon his crops, invading him from the west 
and from the north, that he at length marched off to Tongue, 
the residence of his landlord and chief, to endeavour to 
procure some redress. Having obtained an audience. Lord 
Reay, who probably gave little credit to his tale, told him 
to go back and pound the deer whenever they trespassed 
in future. Donald did not presume to say aught against 
his reception, though he was bitterly vexed at having 
walked forty mortal miles for nothing. 

On his arrival at his little farm, he set his wits to work 
to devise some plan for making use of the permission which 
had been conceded to him. Donald was a shrewd fellow ; 
but it was not particularly easy to pound the denizens of 
the mountains. He was pretty secure for the present, as 
he had built a large barn, and kept his crop on rafters, out 
of the reach of all depredators ; when the winter came on, 
he put part of this crop very carefully into one end of his 
barn, and barred it in with sticks and fir roots, in such a 
manner that no beast or person could get at it. 

About the end of November a very heavy fall of snow 
came on, and the ground was wholly covered with it. The 
second or third night after the storm fell the wind was 
from the west; and Donald spread the sheaves on the 
rafters, the barn door giving eastward : he then threw the 
door wide open, and tied a long rope of hair to it, the end 
of which he took in at the only window that was behind 
the dwellinoj-house. Well did he know that the storm 


would drive the deer to his house in the still hour o£ night 
to search for the least particle of such fodder as might be 
dropped betwixt the barn and the byre in feeding the 
bestial. He therefore took his station within the window, 
with the end of the tether in his hand. He had not been 
long in this situation before he saw the gaunt and starving 
animals approaching. They came forward slowly and 
cautiously, stopping at intervals, and examining every 
object; at length the cravings of nature prevailed, and two 
hinds walked into the barn, and began eating the corn. 
The stags soon followed ; and some of them had great diffi- 
culty in getting their antlers through the narrow door. 

As soon as ten deer had fairly entered, Donald pulled the 
tether, and made the door secure. More blithe than before, 
he set off a second time for Tongue, travelling as fast as his 
legs could carry him. On his arrival, he craved an audience 
of Lord Reay, and told him in Gaelic that he had followed 
his advice, and pounded ten of his deer. " I might," said 
he, " as well have had a hundred as ten ; but I could not 
afford to give them straw whilst I came to report the affair 
to your lordship." 

Not a little incredulous, Lord Reay despatched two men 
to ascertain the truth of the matter. The deer were found 
imprisoned as related, and were liberated. Donald M'K'ay 
then came to terms with his chief, who very handsomely 
gave him his little farm rent-free for his life, upon condition 
that he would not pound his deer for the future. 

It is remarkable for how short a time deer continue in 
season in the cold climate of the north, owing to the back- 
ward vegetation, and the causes already alluded to. In 
warmer climates they come in sooner ; and we are informed 
by Aristotle that, in Greece, the rutting season commenced 
in the beginning of August, and terminated about the end 
of September. 

In Scotland this season varies slightly according to the 
weather ; if mild and warm, the deer do not rut so soon ; 
but, if the weather is cold and frosty, the harts are brought 
forward earlier ; indeed, it is quite surprising what a few 
cold nights will effect in this way. 

About the end of September, and the first week in 


October, the harts swell in their necks, have a ruff of long- 
wiry hair about them, and are drawn up in their bodie.s 
like greyhounds. They now roll restlessly in the peat 
pools till they become almost black with mire, and feed 
chiefly on a light coloured moss, that grows on the round 
tops of the hills, so that they do not differ so entirely 
from the rein-deer in their food as some naturalists have 

In this state of rutting they are rank, and wholly unfit 
for the table. Such deer a good sportsman never fires at ; 
but many may be found at this time, not so forward, but 
perfectly good ; and they are, of course, easily distinguished. 
This is a very wild and picturesque season. The harts are 
heard roaring all over the forest, and are eno^atred in savage 
conflicts with each other, which sometimes terminate fatallj'. 
When a master hart has collected a number of hinds, an- 
other will endeavour to take them from him : they fight, 
till one of them, feeling himself worsted, will run in circles 
round the hinds, beinsj unwillincr to leave them : the other 
pursues ; and when he touches the fugitive with the points 
of his horns, the animal, thus gored, either bounds suddenly 
on one side, and then turns and faces him, or will dash oti* 
to the right or the left, and at once give up the contest. 
The conflict, however, generally continues a considerable 
time, and nothing can be more entertaining than to witness, 
as I have often done, the varied success and address of 
the combatants. It is a sort of wild just, in the presence 
of the dames who, as of old, bestowed their favours on the 
most valiant. Sometimes it is a combat a Voutranee, but 
it often terminates with the efiect of the horn of Astolfo. 

In solitary encounters, there being no hinds to take the 
alarm, the harts are so occupied, and possessed with such 
fury, that they may be occasionally approached in a man- 
ner that it would be vain to attempt at any other time. 
From the summit of a mountain in Atholl forest, I once 
saw two harts in fierce contention, in a mossy part lower 
down the hill. I came into sight at once, not expecting to 
see deer in the situation in which these happened to be. I 
could neither advance straight forward, nor retreat, with- 
out danger of giving the alarm. One possibility alone was 


open to me ; this was to get into the glen to their right 
when I should be entirely hidden from their view, and 
then come up, concealed by the hill, as nearly opposite to 
them as possible. I was certainly a very considerable dis- 
tance to the north of them ; but my position was so bad 
that I looked upon my chance as a mere nothing. I laj- 
down, however, flat on my back, amongst the rugged and 
loose stones of Cairn-marnac, with a rifle in my hand ; 
Thomas Jamieson, with the other rifles, placed himself be- 
hind me in the same comfortable position. We had a full 
view of the deer for some time, so that with their ordinary 
vigilance they w^ould undoubtedly have seen us ; the stones, 
however, formed an uneven outline, which was in our favour, 
and thus we did not absolutely attract their notice. Whilst 
the stags were fiercely engaged, we w^orked our way down 
on our backs, looking askance ; when they rested for a 
space, and sometimes they would do so on their knees, 
from mere exhaustion, we moved not a limb : and in this 
manner we wormed ourselves gradually into the glen, not 
without certain uncomfortable bruises. Then, being out of 
sight we sprang up, and made the best of our way to the 
point immediately below them ; and moving cautiously up 
th^ hill, which w^as sufficiently steep for our purpose, we 
came all at once in full view of one of the combatants, who 
was then alone ; he sprang off' at full speed, but all too late 
for his escape, for my ball struck him dead on the spot. 
His antagonist, I imagine, had been beaten off^. I expected 
to have killed them both. 

A conflict of this savage nature, which happened in one 
of the Duke of Gordon's forests, was fatal to both of the com- 
batants. Two large harts, after a furious and deadly thrust, 
had entangled their horns so firmjy together that they were 
inextricable, and the victor remained with the vanquished. 
In this situation they were discovered by the forester, who 
killed the survivor, whilst he was yet struggling to release 
himself from his dead antagonist. The horns remain at 
Gordon Castle, still locked together as they were found. 
Mezentius himself never attached the dead body to the 
living one in a firmer manner. 

A hart will rut for about a week, after which period he 


becomes weak and exhausted, and seeks some solitary spot 
where he may recruit himself in peace : no wonder, indeed, 
.since during this week he is constantly with a large herd 
■of hinds, at times fighting, and always in a state of the 
highest irritation ; for, at the darkening, another and an- 
other hart will come in, and take some of the hinds from 
him ; he then gives chase furiously, but is obliged to return 
after a short space for fear of losing the remainder. At 
length the old harts that have rutted, collect and go ott' 
together in large parcels, and the younger ones succeed to 
the hinds. During the winter they have long wiry coats 
of a lighter cast of colour, and are wholly without fat, and 
in every respect unfit for the table. The winter coat begins 
to come off when they drop their horns, and the new coat 
appears about the middle of June. 

Neither Mr. John Crerer, who has followed deer in the 
forest of Atholl for sixty years, nor any other individual 
there, has ever seen a hart cover a hind. 

The period of gestation in a hind is eight months. She 
drops her fawn in high heather, where she leaves it con- 
cealed the whole of the day, and returns to it late in the 
evening, when she apprehends no disturbance. She makes 
it lie down by a pressure of her nose ; and it will never 
stir or lift up its head the whole of the day, unless you 
come right upon it, as I have often done. It lies like a dog 
with its nose to its tail. The hind, however, although she 
separates herself from the young fawn, does not lose sight 
of its w^elfare, but remains at a distance to the windward, 
and goes to its succour in case of an attack of the wdld cat 
or fox, or any other powerful vermin. I have heard Mr. 
John Crerer say, and it is doubtless true, that if you find a 
young fawn that has never followed its dam, and take it 
up and rub its back, and put your fingers in its mouth, it 
will follow you home for several miles ; but if it has once 
followed its dam for ever so small a space before you found 
it, it will never follow human beings. When once caught, 
these fawns or calves are easily made tame ; and there were 
generally a few brought up every year by the dairymaid 
at Blair. I speak of hinds only ; stags soon turn vicious and 
unmanageable. When the calf is old enough to keep up 


with a herd of deer, and to take pretty good care of itself, 
its mother takes it off, and leads it into ground that can be 
travelled without difficulty, avoiding precipitous and rocky 

Hinds that have calves have no fat whatever upon them, 
and are fit only for soup, or perhaps for stewing. A good 
sportsman will never fire at them : indeed, it is reckoned a 
disgrace to do so ; and a most wanton act of cruelty it cer- 
tainly is. The best shots, however, will occasionally kill 
them accidentally ; for they come up so rapidly before the 
hart you are aiming at, that they often, like Polonius, get 
that which was meant for their betters. Those hinds, how- 
ever, that have not bred for the season, are lawful game ; 
they are killed late in the year, and their venison is 
fat and more delicate than that of the harts. They are 
called Yell or Yeld Hinds, these terms signifying harren. 
They are known by their sleek and compact make ; but it 
requires a very experienced eye to distinguish them at a 
distance with certainty ; and I must confess I have some- 
times been egregiously deceived. They come into season 
when the harts go out. 

Deer, except in certain embarrassed situations, always 
run up wind ; and so strongly is this instinct implanted in 
them, that if you catch a calf, be it ever so young, and turn 
it down wind, it will immediately face round and go in the 
opposite direction. Thus they go forward over hill-tops 
and unexplored ground in perfect security, for they can 
smell the taint in the air at an almost incredible distance. 
On this account they are fond of lying in open corries^ 
where the swells of winds come occasionally from all 

I have said that deer go up wind ; but, by clever manage- 
ment, and employing men to give them their wind (those 
men being concealed from their view), they may be driven 
down it ; and in certain cases they may easily be sent, by a 
side wind, towards that part of the forest which they con- 
sider as their sanctuary. 

It is to be noted, that on the hill-side the largest harts 
lie at the bottom of the parcel, and the smaller ones above ;. 
indeed, these fine fellows seem to think themselves privi- 


leged to enjoy their ease, and impose the duty of keeping- 
guard upon the hinds and upon their juniors. In the per- 
formance of this task, the hinds are always the most 
vigilant, and when deer are driven, they almost always 
take the lead. When, however, the herd is strongly beset 
on . all sides, and great boldness and decision are required, 
you shall see the master hart come forward courageously, 
like a great leader as he is, and, with his contidino^ band, 
force his way through all obstacles. In ordinary cases, 
however, he is of a most ungallant and selfish disposition ; 
for, when he apprehends danger from the rifle, he will 
rake away the hinds with his horns, and get in the midst 
of them, keeping his antlers as low as possible. 

There is no animal more shy or solitary by nature than 
the red deer. He takes the note of alarm from every living- 
thing on the moor, — all seem to be his sentinels. The sud- 
den start of any animal, the springing of a moor-fowl, the 
complaining note of a plover, or of the smallest bird in dis- 
tress, will set him off in an instant. He is always most 
timid when he does not see his adversary, for then he 
suspects an ambush. If, on the contrary, he has him full 
in view, he is as cool and circumspect as possible ; he then 
watches him most acutely, endeavours to discover his in- 
tention, and takes the best possible mode to defeat it. In 
this case he is never in a hurry or confused, but repeatedly 
stops and watches his disturber's motions ; and when at 
length he does take his measure, it is a most decisive one : 
a whole herd will sometimes force their way at the very 
point where the drivers are the most numerous, and where 
there are no rifles ; so that I have seen the hill-men fling 
their sticks at them, while they have raced away without a 
shot being fired. 

When a stag is closely pursued by dogs, and feels that 
he cannot escape from them, he flies to the best position he 
can, and defends himself to the last extremity. This is 
called, going to bay. If he is badly wounded, or very 
much over-matched in speed, he has little choice of ground ; 
but if he finds himself stout in the chase, and is pursued in 
his native mountains, he will select the most defensible 
spot he has it in his power to reach ; and woe be unto th 



•dog that approaches him rashly. His instinct always leads 
him to the rivers, where his long legs give him a great 
advantage over the deer-hounds. Firmly he holds his 
position, whilst they swim powerless about him ; and would 
die from cold and fatigue before they could make the least 
impression on him. Sometimes he will stand upon a rock 
in the midst of the river, making a most majestic appear- 
ance ; and in this case it will always be found that the spot 
on which he stands is not approachable on his rear. In 
this situation he takes such a sweep with his antlers that 
he could exterminate a whole pack of the most powerful 
lurchers, that were pressing too closely upon him in front. 
He is secure from all but man ; and the rifle-shot must end 
him. Superior dogs may pull him down when running, 
but not when he stands at bay. 

It is worthy of remark, that when a cold hart (meaning- 
one that has not been wounded) takes the bay, and it is 
broken afterwards by an unskilful approach, or by any 
other means, the same dog or dogs which outran it at first, 
seldom succeed in bringing it to bay a second time. The 
dogs exhaust themselves with their clamour and exertions, 
whilst the hart is in a comparative state of rest, and 
recovers his wind. 

There is an opinion amongst many, founded upon tradi- 
tion, that the deer attains to a very extraordinary old age, 
amounting to some hundreds of years : "Long a et cervina 
senectus," saith Juvenal. But the ground and authority of 
this conceit, according to Sir Thomas Browne, " was first 
hieroglyphical, the Egyptians expressing longevity by this 
-animal ; but they often erected such emblems upon uncer- 
tainties, and convincible falsities ; for Aristotle, first, and 
Pliny long after, declared, that the Egyptians could make 
but weak observations on this matter ; for althouo^h it was 
said that ^neas feasted his followers with venison, yet 
Aristotle affirms that neither deer or boar were to be found 
in Africa : and how far they misconstrued the lives and 
duration of animals is evident, from their conceit of the 
crow, which they presume to live for five hundred years ; 
and the lives of hawks, which, according to vElian, the 
Egyptians reckoned at no less than seven hundred." 


Setting aside the absurd story of the stag taken by 
Charles the Sixth, let us see if there be any modern proof 
that may throw light upon this subject. 

In the year 1826, the late Glengarry, accompanied by 
Lord Fincastle, now Earl of Dunmore, was hunting in the 
Garth of Glengarry ; the beaters had been sent into a 
wood, called Tor-na- carry ; a fine stag soon broke forth, 
and was going straight to Lord Fincastle, but owing to a 
slight swell, or change of the current of air, he turned 
towards Glengarry, who fired at, and killed him. 

On going up to him a mark was discovered on his left 
ear ; tlie first man who arrived was asked, " What mark it 
was?" He replied, "That it was the mark of E wen-mac- 
Jan Og." Five others gave the same answer ; and after 
consulting together, all agreed that Ewen-mac-Jan Og had 
been dead 150 years, and for thirty years before his death 
had marked all the calves he could catch with this particu- 
lar mark ; so that this deer (allowing the mark to have 
been authentic) must have been 150 years old, and might 
have been 180. The horns, which are preserved by the 
present Glengarry, are not particularly large, but have a 
very wide spread. 

Now this circumstance is clearly and honourably attested; 
it was communicated to me both by the late and present 
Glengarry ; we must, therefore, either subscribe at once to 
this longevity, or we must imagine (what indeed seems to 
be most probable), that as the old forester's mark was 
evidently known to the hill-men, some of his successors 
might have imitated it, without the sanction or knowledge 
of their chief. 

However this may be, it is notorious that no superstition 
is more prevalent amongst certain classes in the Highlands, 
than that which regards the longevity of deer. Hence the 
following adage : — 

" Tri avis coin, avis eicli ; 

Tri ^vis eich, avis diiine ; , 

Tri dvis duine, avis feidh ; 

Tii A, vis feidh, avis firean ; 

Tri avis firean, avis craobh dharaicli." 

Thus it stands in English : — 


Thrice the age of a dog is that of a horse ; 
Thrice the age of a horse is that of a man ; 
Thrice the age of a man is that of a deer ; 
Thrice the age of a deer is that of an eagle ; 
Thrice the age of an eagle is that of an oak tree. 

Setting aside the extravagance of this adage, I venture 
to mention that, according to tradition, Captain Macdonald, 
of TuUoch, in Lochaber,* who died in 1776, at the age of 
eighty-six, knew the white hind of Lochtreig for the last 
fifty years of his life ; his father knew her an equal length 
of time before him, and his grandfather knew her for sixty 
years of his own time ; and she preceded his days : these 
three gentlemen were all keen deer stalkers. Many of the 
Lochaber and Brae Eannoch men knew her also ; she was 
purely white, without spot or blemish, — was never seen 
alone, and tradition furnishes no instance of any shot 
having been fired at the herd with which she associated. 

A very large stag was known for 200 years in the Mona- 
lia, a range of mountains lying between Badenoch and 
Inverness. He was always seen alone, keeping the open 
plains, so that he was unapproachable. He was easily 
distinguished from all others by his immense proportions. 

About the year 1777, Angus Macdonald, after stalking 
for five hours, got within shot of Damh-mor-a-Vonalia, as 
he was called (that is the large stag of Mona-lia) ; he fired, 
and saw distinctly with his glass that the ball had entered 
his left shoulder blade. He fell to the shot, but, not being 
severely injured, recovered, and got away. 

Macdonald soon made known that he had wounded the 
Damh-mor, but there was some scepticism on the subject. 
In 1807, thirty years after this occurrence, the Damh-mor 
was shot four miles to the westward of the inn at Garvie- 
more, at the head of Badenoch. Thus it was : — 

John Macdonald (innkeeper there, and brother to Angus, 
who wounded the deer as above), having heard that the 
hart was seen in his country, went in quest of him ; and 
after stalking nearly a whole day in August, got within 
distance, and brought him down. After a minute examina- 
tion, the ball of 1777 was found in the left shoulder, an 

* Communicated by Mr. Macgregor. 


inch under the skin, which still retained the mark of an 
old-standing perforation. The horns were by no means 
remarkable in point of size ; but that on the left, being the 
side on which the deer was wounded, was ill-shaped, and 

The belief in the extraordinary longevity of the red deer 
is not peculiar to the Highlands. I have been informed by 
a gentleman, who has frequently attended the Duke of 
Sage Coburg's deer-hunts, that he has very lately seen in 
the mountains of Thuringia a stag of stupendous height 
and dimensions, whose great age is. quite a tradition, 
having been handed down from father to son in the village 
from a very remote and untraceable period of time, though 
he still appears in full vigour ; he has long enjoyed an 
indemnity, the duke having restricted every one from firing 
at him. The woods are of oak ; and the acorns no doubt 
are one great cause of the large growth of the German deer. 

William Twici, or Twety, grand huntsman to King 
Edward the Second, in his Treatise upon Hunting, men- 
tions, amongst other beasts of the chase of the first class, 
the buck, the doe, the bear, the rein-deer, the elk, and the 
spytard ; which latter, he himself informs us, is a hart of 
one hundred years old : these he calls beasts of sweet flight. 

On the other hand, "Aristotle, drawing an argument 
from the increment and gestation of deer (I quote from Sir 
Thomas Browne), comes to the conclusion, that they are. 
not such as afford an argument of long life : and these 
(saith Scaliger, his translator) are good mediums, con- 
junctively taken, — that is, not one without the other : for 
of animals, viviparous, such as live long, go long with 
young, and attain but slowly to their maturity and stature : 
so the horse, that liveth above thirty, arriveth at his stature 
in about six years, and remaineth above ten months in the 
womb ; so the camel, that liveth unto fifty, goeth with 
young no less than ten months, and ceaseth not to grow 
before seven ; and so the elephant, that liveth an hundred, 
beareth its young above a year, and arriveth unto perfection 
at twenty. On the contrary, the sheep and goat, which 
live but eight or ten years, go but ^yq months, and attain 
to their perfection at two years : and the like proportion is 


•observable in cats, hares, and conies. And so the deer that 
endure th the womb but eight months, and is complete at 
six years, from the course of nature we cannot expect to 
live a hundred years, nor in any proportional allowance to 
much more than thirty. 

" Moreover, the state and declination of all animals are 
proportionally set out by nature ; and naturally proceeding, 
admit of inference from each other. When long life is 
natural, the marks of age are late ; and where they appear, 
the journey unto death cannot be long. Now the age of 
deer is best conjectured by view of the horns and teeth. 
From the horns there is a particular and annual account 
unto six years, — they arising first plain, and so successively 
branching; after which the judgment of their years by 
particular marks becomes uncertain : but when they grow 
old, they grow less branched, and first do lose their pro- 
pugnacula or brow antlers; which Aristotle says the 
youngest use in fight, and the old, as needless, have them 
not at all. The same may be also collected from the loss of 
their teeth, whereof in old age the}^ have few, or none 
before, in either jaw. Now these are infallible marks of 
age ; and when they appear we must confess a declination, 
which notwithstanding will happen, as we are informed, 
between twenty and thirty." 

I myself may add, that the great incitement and ex- 
haustion during the rutting season, as well as the effort 
nature makes in renewing the horns annually, is an 
■argument against longevity ; and, notwithstanding the 
extreme respect I bear to marvellous traditions (always, I 
think, better attested in proportion as they are marvellous), 
I judge it incumbent on me to say, that the accounts I have 
received from park-keepers in England, where there are red 
deer, entirely contradict their supposed longevity. 

The longest lived deer they remember in Richmond Park 
was the Naphill stag, turned out there by command of his 
majesty George the Third. Every care was taken of him, 
but he lived no longer than twenty years ; and the present 
keeper, who communicated this information to me, asserted, 
at the same time, that the red deer in that park rarely 
■exceed the age of eighteen years, and that their horns 


decrease in size after the age of twelve. The largest antlers 
he has met with there, with the skull part attached, weigh 
about twelve pounds. 

The deer, like many other animals, seem to foresee every 
change of weather : at the approach of a storm they leave 
the higher hills, and descend to the low grounds, sometimes 
even two days before the change takes place. Again, at the 
approach of a thaw, they leave the low grounds and go to- 
the mountains by a similar anticipation of change. They 
never perish in snow drifts, like sheep, since they do not 
shelter themselves in hollows, but keep the bare ground, 
and eat the tops of the heather. 

One would imagine that in a severe storm many would 
perish by avalanches. But, during the long period of sixty 
years, Mr. John Crerer remembers but two accidents of this 
nature. These were in Glen Mark : eleven were killed by 
one fall, and twenty-one by another : the snow in its 
descent carried the deer along with it into the glen and 
across the burn, and rolled up a little way on the opposite 
brae, where the animals were smothered. 

Harts are excellent swimmers ; and will pass from island 
to island in quest of hinds, or change of food. It is asserted 
that the rear hart in swimming rests his head on the croup 
of the one before him ; and that all follow in the same 

When a herd of deer are driven, they follow each other 
in a line ; so that when they cross the stalker it is customary 
for him to lie quiet, and suffer the leaders to pass before he 
raises his rifle ; if he were to fire at the first that appeared, 
he would probably turn the whole of them ; or if he were 
to run forward injudiciously after a few had passed, the 
remainder, instead of following the others in a direct line, 
would not cross him except under particular circumstances 
and dispositions of ground, but would bear off an end, and 
join the others afterwards. It must be remarked, however, 
that when deer are hard pressed by a dog, they run in a 
compact mass, the tail ones endeavouring to wedge them- 
selves into it. They will also run in this manner when 
pressed by drivers on the open moor. But they are sensible 
that they could not pass the narrow oblique paths that are 


trodden out by them in the precipitous and stony parts of 
the mountain, or encounter the many obstructions of rock, 
river, and precipice that rugged nature is continually oppos- 
ing to thsm, in any other manner than in rank and file. If 
they did they must separate, and lose the wind, which is 
not their system. 

They do not run well up hill when fat, but they will 
beat any dog in such oblique paths as I have mentioned. 
The hardness and sharp edges of their hoofs gives them 
great tenacity, and prevents their suffering from the stones ; 
whilst a dog, having no fence against injury, is obliged to 
slacken his pace. 

The bone also of a deer's foot is small and particularly 
hard; it is this peculiar construction which renders the 
animal as strong as he is fleet. The support and strength 
of the joints of the feet of all animal bodies, according to 
Sir E. Home, depends less upon their own ligaments than 
upon the action of the muscles, whose tendons pass over 
them. " This fact," he says, " was strongly impressed on 
my mind in the early part of my medical education, by 
seeing a deer which leaped over the highest fences, and the 
joints of whose feet, when examined, were as rigid in every 
other direction, but that of their motion, as the bone itself ; 
but when the tendo Achilles, which passed over the joint, 
was divided, with a view to keep the animal from running 
away, the foot could readily be moved in any direction, the 
joint no longer having the smallest firmness." 

Some old authorities attribute various medicinal virtues 
to certain parts of the hart ; and, amongst the rest, the 
author of the Treatise on Venerie very gravely asserts, 
" That his marrow or grease is good for the gout, proceed- 
ing from a cold cause, — melting it, and rubbing the place 
where the pain is therewith. Also the hart first taught us 
to find the herb called Dictamus ; for when he is stricken 
with an arrow or dart he seeketh out that herb, and eateth 
thereof ; the which maketh the dart or arrow to fall out, 
and healeth him immediately." 

Almost every part of the deer is excellent for the table : 
the liver, the heart, the tripe, the feet, and the white 
puddings, should not be neglected. The skin itself is manu- 


factured into a soft yellow-coloured leather, which is useful 
for numerous purposes. 

I have heard the excellence of the venison disputed by 
sportsmen, and others who have tasted it in the north; but 
I attribute this entirely to the age and condition of the sort 
of creature it was their lot to taste, or to the time of year 
in which it was killed. A hart, like most other animals, 
has little fat when he is growing ; and if sportsmen do not 
distinguish, or have not the means of selection, the haunches 
will cut but a sorry figure at the table. But in the estima- 
tion of all the numerous guests it has been my good fortune 
to meet in the hospitable halls of Blair, the red deer has 
been infinitely preferred to the fallow ; and I could name 
many such guests, whose judgment w^ould be pronounced 
paramount in such matters. On the contrary, the haunch 
of the fallow deer, when brought to table at Blair, although 
perfect in its kind, was always neglected. There must 
however be a wide difference between the quality of the 
red deer, which are fed in English parks, and such as wander 
freely over the mountains, and browse on the sweet grass 
and heather. 

I have now lying before me a letter from Sir Walter 
Scott, to whom I was in the habit of sending Highland 
venison (and who was no mean judge of the merits of a 
plat de resistance), attesting its excellence. Thus I quote 
from it, word for word : — 

" Thanks, dear Sir, for your venison, for finer or fatter 
Never roam'd in a forest, or smoked in a platter." 

" Your superb haunch arrived in excellent time to feast 

a new married couple, the Douglasses, of M , and was. 

pronounced by far the finest that could by possibility have 
been seen in Teviotdale since Chevy Chase. I did not 
venture on the carving, being warned both by your hints, 
and the example of old Robert Sinclair, who used to say 
that he had thirty friends during a fortnight's residence at 
Harrowgate, and lost them all in the carving of one haunch 
of venison ; so I put Lockhart on the duty, and, as the- 
haunch was too large to require strict economy, he hacked 
and hewed it well enough." 


Stags, although they have frequent and ferocious combats 
amongst their own species during the rutting season, have 
been seldom known to attack men, in any other way than 
in self-defence. No instance of the sort ever occurred to 
me, nor to Mr. John Crerer, who shot sixty years in the 
forest of Atholl. Once, indeed, he incurred a sort of rebuff 
by his own imprudence ; being a very powerful man, he got 
behind a stag, which was at bay at Glenmore, and thought 
it advisable to take hold of his hind leg, and endeavour to 
throw him over; but when about to do so, the animal 
saluted him with both his hind legs, and with such effect, 
that one of his hoofs broke his watch, and the other struck 
him in the mouth, knocked out one of his teeth, and sent 
him sprawling on his back to the edge of the water. The 
only instance I ever heard of in that forest, of an offensive 
assault on man, was recounted to me by the late Duke of 
Atholl. His Grace had wounded a hart, and one of the 
deer-hounds flew at him and seized hold of his ear ; when 
the duke came up, the hart sprung forward with his head 
down (the dog still hanging to his ear), and was rushing to 
the attack, but his Grace escaped the danger by sending a 
ball through his forehead. This, as I have said, is the only 
instance I ever heard of an offensive attack upon man by 
deer upon the wild mountains ; and it must be observed, 
that the animal here in question was rendered furious by 
the dog, and by the pain of his wound. It is, however, at 
all times dangerous to approach a wounded deer too nearly, 
for, in self-defence, he would not hesitate to kill any living 
thing that came within reach of his pointed antlers. An 
instance is recorded of a red deer having: beat off a ti^er, 
which was set loose upon it in an inclosed arena, at the 
instance of William Duke of Cumberland. But if sta^s in 


such wild regions stand in awe of man, they have not 
always the same respect when they become more familiar 
with him. 

" Some years ago," says Gilpin, " a stag in the New Forest, 
pressed by the hunters, and just entering a thicket, was 
opposed by a peasant, who foolishly, with his arms extended, 
attempted to turn him. The stag held his course, and dart- 
ing one of his antlers into the man, carried him off some 


paces, sticking upon his horn : the man was immediately 
conveyed to Lymington, where he lay dangerously ill for 
some time, but at length recovered. I have heard also that 
when the Duke of Bedford was lord-warden of the forest, 
his huntsman had a horse killed under him by a stag, which 
he crossed in the same imprudent manner. " We read" 
(saith the editor of the FobU Art of Venerie) " of an em- 
peror named Batels, who had done great deedes cf chivalrie 
in his country, and yet was nevertheless slaj^ne with a hart 
in breaking of a bay." 

But a recenc instance occurred in October, 183G, of the 
forocity of a red deer when confined in a park, which, from 
the courtesy of the gentleman to whom it happened, I am 
enabled to give circumstantially. 

The Hon. Mr. and Mrs. Fox Maule had left Taymouth 
with the intention of proceeding towards Dalguise, and in 
driving through that part of the grounds where the red 
deer were kept, they suddenly, at a turn of the road, came 
upon thedord of the demesne, standing in the centre of the 
passage, as if prepared to dispute it against all comers. 

Mr. Maule being aware that it might be dangerous to 
trifle with him, or to endeavour to drive him away (for it 
was the rutting season), cautioned the postillion to go slowly, 
and give the animal an opportunity of moving off. 

This was done, and the stag retired to a small hollow by 
the side of the road ; on the carriage passing, however, he 
took offence at its too near approach, and emerged at a slow 
and stately pace, till he arrived nearly parallel with it; 
Mr. Maule then desired the lad to increase his pace, being 
apprehensive of a charge on the broadside. 

The deer, how^ever, had other intentions ; for as soon as 
the carriage moved quicker, he increased his pace also, and 
came on the road about twelve yards ahead of it, for the 
purpose of crossing, as it was thought, to a lower range of 
the park ; but to the astonishment, and no little alarm of 
the occupants of the carriage, he charged the offside horse, 
plunging his long brow antler into his chest, and otherwise 
cutting him. 

The horse that w^as wounded made two violent kicks, 
and is supposed to have struck the stag, and then the pair 


instantly ran off the road ; and it was owing solely to the 
admirable presence of mind and nerve of the postillion, that 
the carriage was not precipitated over the neighbouring 
bank. The horses were not allowed to stop till they reached 
the gate, although the blood was pouring from the wounded 
animal in a stream as thick as a man's linger. He was then 
taken out of the carriage, and only survived two or three 
hours. The stag was shortly afterwards killed. 

Of the various modes practised for pursuing and killing 
the deer in different ages and countries, I do not profess to 
treat. In thinly-peopled districts, like the Wilds of North 
America, whose inhabitants subsist by the chase, artificial 
fences, stretching over vast distances, are employed to aid 
in driving the deer to the spots, where the pit-fall, the net, 
the spear, arrow, or rifle are employed for their destruction. 

On the Continent, deer-driving on the grandest scale is 
still occasionally practised, the game of a whole province 
being surrounded by the marshalled peasantry of a prince 
or noble, and forced by the gradual narrowing of the circle 
to some central spot for promiscuous slaughter. Similar 
princely Battues were formerly common, when the game 
was more plentiful, and cultivation rarer, both in England 
and Scotland. As one instance among many of these, which 
we find recorded in the old chroniclers, and as a proof of the 
determined resolution of the stag when pushed to extremit}'", 
I may be permitted to quote the following account. 

Spottiswood mentions in his History, " That Queen Mary 
took the sport of hunting the deer in the forest of Mar and 
AthoU, in the year 1563," of which Barclay, in his Defence 
of Monarchial Government, gives the following particulars : 

" The Earl of AthoU prepared for her Majesty's reception 
by sending out about two thousand Highlanders to gather 
the deer from Mar, Badenoch, Murray, and Atholl, to the 
district he had previously appointed. It occupied the 
Highlanders for several weeks in driving the deer to the 
amount of two thousand, besides roes, does, and other game. 

" The Queen, with her numerous attendants and a great 
concourse of the nobility, gentry, and people, were assem- 
bled at the appointed glen, and the spectacle much delighted 
her Majesty, particularly as she observed that such a numer- 


ous herd of deer seemed to be directed in all their motions 
by one stately animal among them ; they all walked, 
stopped, or turned as he did, — they all followed him. The 
Queen was delighted to see all the deer so attentive to 
their leader, and upon her pointing it out to the Earl of 
Atholl, who knew the nature of the animal well, havinof 
been accustomed to it from his youth, he told her that they 
might all come to be frightened enough by that beautiful 
beast. * For,' said he, ' should that stag in the front, which 
your Majesty justly admires so much, be seized with any fit of 
fury or of fear, and rush down from the side of the hill, where 
you see him stand, to this plain, then would it be necessary 
for every one of us to provide for the safety of your Majesty, 
and for our own : all the rest of those deer would infallibly 
come with him as thick as possibly they could, and make 
their way over our bodies to the mountain that is behind us/ 

"This information occasioned the Queen some alarm, and 
what happened afterwards proved it not to be altogether 
without cause, for her Majesty having ordered a large 
fierce dog to be let loose on a wolf that appeared, the 
leading deer, as we may call him, was terrified at the sight 
of the dog, turned his back and began to fly thither whence 
they had come ; all the other deer instantly followed. 

" They were surrounded on that side by a line of High- 
landers, but well did they know the power of this close 
phalanx of deer, and at speed ; and therefore they yielded, 
and opposed no resistance ; and the only means left of 
savinor their lives, was to fall flat on the heath in the best 
posture they could, and allow the deer to run over them. 
This method they followed, but it did not save them from 
being wounded; and it was announced to the Queen that 
two or three men had been trampled to death. 

" In this manner the deer would have all escaped, had 
not the huntsmen, accustomed to such events, gone after 
them, and with great dexterity headed and turned a detach- 
ment in the rear ; against these the Queen's staghounds and 
those of the nobility were loosed, and a successful chase 
ensued. Three hundred and sixty deer were killed, five 
wolves, and some roes ; and the Queen and her party 
returned to Blair delighted with the sport." 


If this account "by Barclay is matter of fact throughout 
(which I very much doubt), it would be curious to know in 
what manner these i^,000 men proceeded, and how they 
consumed several weeks in bringing down 2,000 head of 
deer. Such a force of men, well and equally distributed, 
would cover an immense tract of ground, but the wind 
must be changing upon them continually, and it must have 
required the strictest order, and perhaps fires throughout 
the line to keep the deer in during the dark nights, at 
which time they will go in any direction, either up or down 
wind. Even in the daytime, a cross wind might be fatal to 
the drive, if it were not for the enormous extent of ground 
that a force of 2,000 men could cover. A hundred men a 
mile would give less than twenty yards of interval between 
each man, and constitute a line of twenty miles in length. 
But how did all these rough-footed Highlanders subsist for 
two months on the barren mountains ? A few days, one 
would think, would have been quite sufficient for their 
purpose. As for the number of deer that were killed, if a 
hundred couple of fierce and swift dogs were let loose, 
which we are told was not unusual, they must have pulled 
down a great many hinds and calves, though probably but 
few harts. 

When the country was partially covered with wood the 
forests were driven, and the sportsmen occupied passes 
where they took their chance of sport ; and this method is 
still occasionally resorted to in the forest of Glengarry and 
in other places. But, generally speaking, the system has 
given way to the more exciting amusement of deer-stalking. 

The destruction of the woods, and the substitution of the 
gun for the bow and arrow and hagbute, formed quite an 
epoch in the habits and size of the deer, as well as in the 
mode of killing: them. 

In Sutherland, fire-arms were unknown until about the 
latter end of the 16th century, when a large awkward kind 
of blunderbuss, named by the country-people Glasnahhean 
(meaning the mountain match-lock gun), was obtained 
by Angus Baillie of Uppat, one of the most noted of the 
Sutherland foresters of whom we have any correct account; 
and it was used by him with great effect in some of the 


conflicts and skirmishes that were of frequent occurrence 
in those days. 

This memorable appearance of Glasnahhean * took place 
in the year 1589 ; and I think it very probable that it was 
a gun taken from the wreck of a vessel belonging to the 
Spanish Armada, which was cast on the Scotch shores in 
the year 1584. Early in the following century, more 
serviceable, but still very rude guns, having the barrel 
attached to the stock by iron hoops, were introduced 
generally into Sutherland. These did not, however, 
entirely supplant the bow and arrow until after the middle 
of the seventeenth century. The spear was used at a more 
remote period against the boar and the wolf, and also in 
killing wounded deer. 

The bow had one advantage over the gun, namely, that of 
being noiseless ; so that, if the stalker were well concealed, 
he might repeat his shots without giving much alarm. 

The sport afforded by the deer to the lovers of the chase 
with hound and horn (by which I mean hunting on scent, 
without the aid of rifles,) has always ranked high amongst 
the amusements of the upper ranks of civilised nations. 
In Germany, France, and England, up to a comparatively 
recent period, a pack of staghounds formed part of the 
establishment of every sovereign prince and wealthy noble ; 
and this branch of the " Arte of Venerie " was reduced by 
rule and method almost to a science, and pursued in a 
stately and magnificent manner according to recognised 
principles, which are treated of at length in many works of 
the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. But this is a 
field into which I have no intention of entering. 

In this country, I believe, the stag is now hunted in his 
wild state only in Devonshire, and in the New Forest, and 
even there the animal is daily becoming scarcer. Stag- 
hunting was never probably practised in the same way in 
the Highlands of Scotland, the nature of the country offer- 
ing great obstacles to this mode of pursuit on horseback. 

It is mentioned in a letter, printed by the late Lord 

* Sir Robert Gordon ascribes the name of Glasnahhean to John Beaton, 
the person who had charge of the gun, and used it in the skirmishes in 
company with Angus Baillie. 


Graves, who hunted the wild-deer in Devonshire, that these 
animals, when they find themselves pursued by scent, 
generally run down wind; and the same thing has been 
asserted to me by others. This is an extraordinary instance 
of sagacity, as their natural instinct leads them to the 
opposite direction, it being a most difficult thing for men 
alone to drive them down wind. 

In the following pages I confine myself to a description 
of the mode of killing deer now in use in the Highlands, 
which may be considered limited to the two methods of 
drivinor and stalkincr; the former of these oflfers more room 
for the companionship and friendly rivalry, which confers 
its main zest on sport of every description ; but the latter^ 
if it has the disadvantage of being pursued in a more 
solitary guise, yet gives so much scope to skill and 
manoeuvring, and exhibits the motions and the defensive 
instincts of the stag in such a beautiful manner, tried as 
he is under every variety of incident, that I have always 
considered it as creating a deeper and more absorbing in- 
terest. Those sportsmen, therefore, who agree with me, 
will not be surprised at my dwelling on it with the natural 
preference of a fond lover of the spirit-stirring craft. 


Start from Blair Castle.— Bruar Lodge. — A Comrade joins. — Ascent of Ben Dairg.— 
Ptarmigans. — Forest Scener}'. — Spirit-stirring Interest. — A Hart Discovered — 
Manoeuvring.— Wading a Burn.— Getting a quiet Shot.— Dogs Slipped.— The Bay in 
a Mountain Cataract.— Dogs in Peril.— Death and Gralloching of the Deer.— Cruel 
Death of a Deerhound.— Origin and Antiseptic Property of Peat Bogs.— Ascent of 
Ben-y-venie. — A Herd Discovered. — Plan and Manoeuvring. — Alarm, and Movements 
of the Deer.— An Injudicious Shot— A Successful One.— A Deerhound Slipped.— 
Bay.— strange Adventure.— A Wild Huntsman. — Encounter with a Bear.— Loss of a 
Huge Salmon.— The Gown-cromb of Badenoch and his Story. 

" As he came down by Merriemas, 
And in the benty line, 
There has he espied a deer lying 
Aneath a bush of ling." 

Minstrelsy of the Border. 

"It's just the skreek o' day, yer honour, and time ye war 
out o' bed." 

" Rather farther on, I'm thinking, Peter ; so take away 
the rifles, balls and all, get the men together, and make 


good speed over the moor : I see by the course of the clouds, 
which I have been watching from my bed, that the wind is 
in the right airt, and as the weather is warm, the deer will 
be far out on the tops of the hills ; so we will leave Blair 
as soon as possible, breakfast at the lodge as usual, and go 
round the north of Ben Derig, that we may take all the 
ground, and not lose a chance. I expect to find a friend at 
Bruar Lodge, who was to come across the moors from the 
Badenoch country, and he slept there last night, if he did 
not miss the track, which you know is but a wild one. So 
order the pony to the door at four o'clock, and take care I 
do not pass you at Auld Heclan, as I did the day we killed 
the great deer ; and I say, Peter, do not forget the whiskey." 

" Na, na, I aye tak tent o' that. Did ye ever knaw me 
lave it ahint ?" 

"No, faith, to do you justice, your memory never fails 
you there ; and you take care to refresh it pretty often. 
So off with you, my good fellow, and keep that laugh to 
enliven you on your way, for it is a long and dreary one." 

It may be thought that Tortoise said this in a half intel- 
ligible, drowsy tone. Not a bit of it. An eager sportsman 
never sleeps or slumbers ; or, if he does so by way of variety, 
he starts into life at once, and springs up from his bed as if 
the deer were actually before him : neither does he say, 
" Sandy, bring me the balls ;" or, " Charlie, bring me my 
powder-flask," or my jacket, or my shoes, or anything else 
of the sort ; for he has very methodically laid out all these 
things on his dressing-table over night with his own proper 
hands. To be dependent on others in these matters is 
exceedingly youthful : no, he trusts to no man's vigilance, 
but relies upon his own, and this is his system, not only in 
the camp, but in the field. 

Mounted on his horse, Tortoise soon left the silent castle,and 
away he went, winding his rugged course through the forest 
of pines, some standing stately and dark in their verdure, 
others riven and blasted by the storm, their bare bones 
lying across his path, or driven crashing into the torrent 
below, where the waters of the Banavie come struofalinor 
through their rude barriers. The morn broke silvery and 
bright over the mountain top, just moving with her refresh- 


inof breath the lioht leaves of the birch and mountain ash, 
which were scattered about in nature's careless haste, hang- 
ing in graceful forms, and glittering with the falling dew- 

Now and then a roe sprang up from the bracken, in the 
secret glades of the wood, and vanished instantly with a 
bound among the gloom of the thickets, as the feet of the 
good Galloway clattered over the stones. To say that the 
rider " recked not of the scene so fair," were to do him in- 
justice. No sudden gleam of light shot vividly across the 
moor, — no cataract leaped and dashed down the rocky 
chasms, —no wreaths of mists rose sluggishly to the moun- 
tain tops, with their light trains flickering behind, the effect 
of which did not excite his mind powerfully, and awaken 
it to the most pleasurable sensations. 

" These are thy glorious works, Parent of good !" 

So mused he thankful. At length, freed from the gloom 
of the pine woods, his pony dashed forward to the open 
moor, and the light spread broad around him ; not a cloud 
is to be seen to indicate the course of the wind ; a moment 
he checks his horse on the summit of the first hill, and 
scatters a few shreds of tow ; away they sail to the north. 
Burn after burn is left behind him, but still he sees the 
long cart-track winding into the distance ; and in the remote 
sky-line a few specks, which surely are his men, now near 
Bruar Lodo^e, At lenojth the last hill is cjained, and from 
its summit he descries the smoke issuing from the little 
chimneys; joyfully he sees it, and the complacent thoughts 
of breakfast come like balm over his soul. 

There are some classes of men, alas, who know too well 
what hunger is : (would they were fewer) ! Were I called 
upon ofl" hand to name a few individuals particularly 
tortured by famine, why then I should say Franklin, 
Richardson, Ross, and the deer-stalker, who has ridden 
over moor and mountain, from Blair to Bruar Lodge, before 
sun-rise, .conscientiously putting the deer-stalker decidedly 
first. Still let him beware of indulging his appetite too 
liberally. Something we shall say on this subject when we 
touch upon the necessary qualities and conduct of a deer- 


stalker. But, after all, what is the use of preaching up 
abstinence to a craving, ravenous mortal ? Eat he inevit- 
ably will, and that to the last possible extremity, notwith- 
standing we tell him he may as well swallow coals of fire 
like Portia. 

About eight reputed miles north of Blair Atholl, which 
distance would be numbered ten in a country of mile- 
stones, you descend into a glen, which is of a wild and 
desolate character. The heather being old, is rather of a 
brown than a purple colour ; but there is some relief of 
green sward near the lodge, and more in various patches 
near the winding course of the Bruar. Huge, lofty, and 
in the district of Atholl, second only in magnitude to 
Ben-y-gloe, Ben Dairg, or the red mountain, stands 
dominant. At the right entrance of the pass, the little 
white and lonely dwelling, called Bruar Lodge, lies a mere 
speck beneath it. It consists of two small tenements 
facing each other, encompassed by a wall, so as to form a 
small court between them : one of these buildings serves 
for the master and the other for his servants ; there is, 
besides, a lodging-place for the hill men, rather frail in 
structure, and a dog kennel of the same picturesque 
character. Close by stands a black stack of peats. Down 
winds the river Bruar through the glen, sometimes creeping 
silently through the mossy stones, and at others raving, 
maddening and bearing all before it, so that neither man 
nor beast may withstand its violence. Nearly in front of 
the little lodge is a wooden foot bridge, raised high above 
the water, so as to give it a free passage. When Tortoise 
flourished, this bridge, shot away by the floods, used to 
make an annual excursion of some miles towards the 
Garry, and was as regularly brought back again piecemeal, 
by a train of carts every summer. Like the boat-bridge on 
the Rhine, it might be termed a pont volant Some dis- 
tance up the glen, towards the east, a lofty cataract falls 
from the mountain side, whose waters find their way into 
the Bruar ; and the head of the pass is obstructed by a chain 
of mountains, so that it forms a sort of cul-de-sac. 

On these hills grouse are most abundant ; and when they 
are not shrouded in mist, there cannot be a more delightful 


range for a sportsman. Tortoise, therefore, used to relax a 
little on them after the severer exercise of deer-stalking, 
when venison was plenty, and grouse scarce at the castle, 
or when the wind was unfavourable for the pursuit of the 
nobler game. By the favour of the lord of the forest, 
Bruar Lodefe"^' was his occasional domicile. With all its 
apertures he loved it dearly ; and it may be doubted 
whether any monarch ever entered a palace, or any lady a 
ball-room, with more absolute delight than he was wont to 
enter this lonely abode. What, though the winds would 
revel freely in it, and heave up the little carpet with an 
unceasing undulation, still the table cloth was tolerably 
tranquil, for the weight of the meal made it retain its 
station ! What, though the parlour bell in the passage 
would ring incessantly during the night, even when the 
doors were closed, stimulated by the gentle violence of the 
wind ; it was an ^olian harp to him ! What, though a 
deluge of continuous rain, like the bursting of a water- 
spout, would sometimes plunge down, and darken the 
narrow glen, recalling the days of Deucalion and Pyrrha, 
still there was a to-morrow, and then the mist would climb 
the mountain tops, and the sun break forth anew in all its 
refulgence ! 

Heaven be praised for these transient checks, they add 
new vigour to our mind, and fresh zest to our sport. 

But away with these reflections; for here comes my 
friend, safely arrived over the dubious tracts of the 
Badenoch mountains, fresh and eager for the sport. 

" Well, Harry, I am delighted to see you arrived, and to 
welcome you to my cabin ; how do you like our country ; 
and how did you and your sheltie get across it ?" 

" Country ! why it is a vast chaos of mountains, rocks, 
and torrents ; I hit the track by a mere miracle, — you know 
that well enough. I am aware that the descendants of the 

* The noble proprietor of Bruar Lodge would have spared no trouble or 
expense in making it as comfortable as possible for the writer of these 
pages, and this was repeatedly and kindly pressed upon him at Blair ; 
but, as almost all his time during the shooting season was spent at the 
castle, he felt and expressed that every thing at the lodge was precisely as 
he could wish ; and really, during a violent north wind and a raging 
tempest (the particular time alluded to), it did not come within the scope 
of a carpenter's or mason's craft to ward oflf the inroad of the elements. 


Picts dwelt to the north, but without this previous in- 
struction, I should be inclined to say, 'Nunc tevniinus 
Britannioi patet ; — nulla jam ultra gens, nihil nisi fiuctus 
et saxa ; so utterly desolate seems all around me. I dare 
say we shall see Galgacus in the course of the day. But 
pray let us go in ; the breakfast is prepared, and has a 
most inviting appearance. Your men descried you on the 
last hill-top with their glasses, and all is ready. I never 
was more happy to see any one in my life ; for besides 
other considerations, ' the air bites shrewdly ;' and I am 
hungry past endurance. What a rascally hill that is at the 
head of the pass ; my pony slid down it on his hocks, carr}^- 
ing forward with him a rattling mass of stones and rubbish, 
that now forms a talus, which, under ordinary circumstances, 
ought to have been the work of ages." 

What was dispatched at breakfast w^e may not say ; it 
becomes us not, when in our own cabin, to record how often 
empty plates were exchanged for full ones, or to say whether 
the pasty was still a venison pasty, or only a simple unpre- 
tending dish of earthenware ; let those who have felt the 
mountain breeze, and all the freshness and salubrity it 
imparts, form their own conclusions ; and we really can 
assure them that, all things considered, we are not voracious, 
that is, not particularly so, — on the contrary, we always 
feel inclined to inculcate the doctrine of abstinence ; but 
then we cannot very decently do tJiis to our own guests, so 
you must excuse us for the present. 

" Now, Harry, are you ready ?" 

"In one moment, — just let me take another ^gg: and 
with your permission I will put this broiled grouse in my 
pocket, and a roll or two, and so forth. Now, then, for 
this wonderful work." 

'•Do you still hold your intention of taking no rifle ?" 

" For to-day, yes, most decidedly ; I will keep cool, 
and see the nature of the thing first. That is my firm 

" Well, I shall have three rifles with me, and you can use 
mine whenever you feel inclined to do so. I will explain 
the abstruse science to you, and all the meaning of our 
operations as clearly as I can, and I hope they will awaken 


your interest. The men are ready, and the dogs are in the 
leash, so let us sally forth. See, we must ascend this moun- 
tain ; it is called Ben Dairg, which means the red hill ; and, 
when we are near its summit, we shall be at the head of 
•our cast." 

" That will not take us long, I think, though it seems 
pretty steep ; but the top is not far off." 

"You cannot see the top from hence; but when we 
arrive at the point, which you mistake for it, which is 
a mere brae, the ascent is somewhat steeper, till you come 
to a naked point of rock, and sundry large uncomfortable 

" Well, thank heaven, there it ends at last." 

" Wait a moment. Having reached this rock, a little 
cairn serves as a mark for our course, and guides us to the 
bare thin soil ; and when we are at that spot, why, then, 
we shall see the top of the mountain. In fact, you must 
have seen it yourself yesterday, if it was clear, which I 
should doubt." 

" I certainly did see a great mountain all the way before 
me, which blocked out the hills to the north, and grew 
bigger and bigger as I advanced, like a giant in a dream. 
A thick mist clung around its summit, and I pitied the poor 
eagles that were wheeling in the vapour. It made me dream 
of precipices and vultures all night long. You don't mean 
to say that we are to go there without a balloon. Why, 
Chimborazo is a mole-hill to it !" 

" No, we shall not go to the very summit; bii^ you are 
walking so stoutly, that I am sure you will not be the last 
of the party ; and, to say truth, the mist that sits on the 
peak makes it look higher than it really is." 

" Well, Davy, I see you have got Corrie and Tarff, and 
you are right, for that eager devil Ossian pulled so hard 
yesterday in the couples, that he must be quite unfit to go 
out to-day. It was worse for him than running ten chases ; 
why, you could scarcely hold him." 

" I dinna ken what sort of work it war to him, but I ken 
weel enough what it war to me, for he pulled me heels over 
head twice, in rinning down Ben-y-gloe, to turn the deer, 
him and anither, that's Oscar." 


" To try to turn them, you mean, Davy, but they were- 
over wilful, and gang'd their own waj'- in spite of you." 

The party were now breasting the mountain, and soon 
overcame the first ascent ; when, turning to the left, they 
kept the northern side of Ben Dairg, and bore off towards 
the east, till they arrived under that huge mass of large 
gneiss and granite blocks which forms the summit of the 
mountain. The ground here was strewed over with the 
bones of calves (fawns), lambs, and moor-fowl, which had 
fallen a prey to the fox, wild cat, or eagle ; and it was 
settled that traps should be set for the depredators. 

" What ! have you rabbits here ? I thought I saw one run 
under the rocks." 

" It must have been a white hare, which is nearly the 
colour of a rabbit in summer, and occasionally burrows like 
him. There are no rabbits here." 

Lightfoot now suddenly seized the arm of his friend with 
an earnest look and panting heart, and making a signal for 
silence, pointed to a particular spot amidst the chaos of 
granite blocks. There was a sort of " air of success about 
him," that seemed to say he had made a capital hit; and, in 
truth, his excitement appeared to be excessive : judge, then, 
of his surprise and disappointment, when the only answer 
he got was, — " Ay, those are ptarmigans : you can have a 
a day at them when you have nothing better to do. They 
are not worth our notice at present, — guarda, e passa." 

They now turned up the hill to the south-east, and pro- 
ceeded till they came to an immense block of granite which 
stood upon the sky line of the hill; and then the gillies sat 
down on the heather ; — he with the dogs in the leash, a 
little apart from the rest. 

" Is this the forest ? why, there is not a single tree or 
bush within ten miles of us." 

" You are nearly right there, Harry ; it is a forest only in 
the sense of the chase ; wild as this immense tract is, how- 
ever, every rock, corrie, cairn, and mountain is distinguished 
by some particular name, ' nullum sine nomine saxum ;' and 
there are numerous sub-divisions which indicate every pre- 
cise spot, so that the men appointed to bring home the dead 
deer, being thus told where they lie, never fail to find them."" 


" And now what do you think of this wild region ? Do 
you not always feel as if you were wandering in a new 
world ? Here, everything bears the original impress of 
nature, untouched by the hand of man since its creation. 
That vast moor spread out below you ; this mass of huge 
mountains heaving up their crests around you ; and those 
peaks in the distance, faint almost as the sky itself, — give 
the appearance of an extent boundless and sublime as the 
ocean. In such a place as this, the wild Indian might fancy 
himself on his own hunting grounds. Traverse all this 
desolate tract, and you shall find no dwelling, nor sheep, 
nor cow, nor horse, nor anything that can remind you of 
domestic life ; you shall hear no sound but the rushing of 
the torrent, or the notes of the wild animals, the natural 
inhabitants ; you shall see only the moor fowl and the plover 
flying before you from hillock to hillock, or the eagle soar- 
ing aloft wdth his eye to the sun, or his wings wet with 

" Nothing more shall you see, except the dun tenants of 

the waste, which we are in search of, and these I hope to 

fall in with long before we reach Blair. You have hitherto 

seen nothing but our tame deer, with their palmated 

branches, cooped up in ornamental parks ; and such are 

picturesque enough ; but when I show you a Merd of these 

magnificent animals, with their pointed and w^ide-spreading 

antlers, ranging over this vast tract, free as the winds of 

heaven, I think you will agree with me that there does not 

"exist a more splendid or beautiful animal ; for whether he 

is picking his scant food on the mountain tops, or wandering 

in solitude through the birch groves, or cooling himself in 

the streams, he gives grace, character, and unity to every 

thing around him. How you feel I know not ; but when I 

first trod these glorious hills, and breathed this pure air, I 

almost seemed to be entering upon a new state of existence. 

I felt an ardour and a sense of freedom that made me look 

back with something like contempt upon the tame and 

hedge-bound country of the South. Perhaps it is impolitic 

thus to raise your expectations as to the chase; and, indeed, 

it is impossible for me to describe the enthusiasm I felt 

when I first began my career. In the pursuit, the stag's. 


motions are so noble, and his reasoning so acute, that, 
believe me, I had rather follow one hart from morning till 
night with the expectation of getting a shot (in which I 
might be probably defeated), than have the best day's sport 
with moor fowl that the hills could afford me. All your 
powers of body and mind are called into action, and if they 
are not properly exercised, the clever creature will inevitably 
defeat yow : it is quite an aiFair of generalship ; and if you 
have any thoughts of the army, I would advise you to scan 
all our motions, that you may gain a knowledge of ground 
and skirmishing." You will find that almost every step we 
take has a meaning in it ; we shall creep along crafty paths, 
between clefts and recesses, and make rapid and continuous 
runs according to the various motions of the quarry; so 
tha when the deer are afoot, the interest and excitement 
will never flag for one single moment. See what a bound- 
less field for action is here, and what a sense of power these 
rifles give you, which are fatal at such an immense distance I 
When you are in good training, and feel that you can 
command the deer, your bodily powers being equal to take 
every possible chance, the delight of this chase is excessive^ 
as I trust you will ere long experience ; — and here ends my 

" Well, I have listened to you with great interest, for I 
see your heart goes along with your words ; and I burn 
with impatience to see a sport which every individual I 
have met on this side of the Tay seems to be perfectly wild 
about. Why, what a primitive country is this ; are there 
any buffalos here V 

" Not exactly." 

" Nor wolves ?" 

"Not at present; but sit you down quietly where you 
are, whilst we look for the deer : you may amuse yourself 
by eating the provender you put in your pocket at starting." 

" No bad hint that ; will you have a little ? You won't ; 
— oh, very well." 

Tortoise and Peter Fraser now laid down their rifles on 

* It is a fact that one of our most gallant and celebrated generals (why 
should I forbear to mention Lord Lynedoch?) declared that he got his. 
knowledge of ground in this forest. 


the heather, put their caps in their pocket, and crept forward 
on their hands and knees to a large granite block ; then, 
cautiously peering over its summit, they began to examine 
the ground with their telescopes steadily poised upon it. — 
" Well, Peter, I can see nothing but those eternal hinds on 
the Mealowr, and not a good hart amongst them: the 
ground is quite bare; so jump up, and let us get round 
the east of the Elrich, and see if there is anything in the 
corrie. — Maclaren, what are you glowring at ?" 

" Why, as sure as deid, I had a blink of a hart lying in 
the bog by the burn under the Mealowr. But my prospect 
is foul ; he is lying beyond that great black place in the 
bog, joost in a line wi' thae hinds wha are on the scalp of 
the hill aboon." 

" And a noble fellow he is, Maclaren ; I can just see hi» 
horns and the point of his shoulders. It is a glorious 
chance ; for, once in the burn, we can get within a hundred 
yards of him, and that is near enough in all conscience. — 
Here, Lightfoot, look at the fine fellow; pull off your cap, 
and rest the glass on the stone." 

" Not the semblance of a deer can I see ; but I'll take 
your word for it: I dare say he is there, since you say 
so. And now explain to me how you mean to get at him ; 
communicate, my good fellow ; for it seems, by all your 
caution, that even at this distance you dare not show a hair 
of your head." 

" Creep back, then, behind the hill, whilst I mark the 
very spot in the burn which is opposite his lair. — Well, 
now I will tell you : 

" We must go all round by the east behind yon hill, and 
then come up at the notch between yon two hills, which 
will bring us into the bog ; we can then come forward up 
the burn under cover of its banks, and pass from thence 
into the bog again by a side wind, when we may take his 
broadside, and thus have at him. So let us make the best 
of our way. It would be quite easy to get at the hart, if it 
were not for the hinds on the top of the hill ; but if we 
start them, and they go on belling, the hart will follow 
them, whether he sees us or not. Get our wind he cannot. 

" Well, Lightfoot, you have come on capitally ; and have 


hitherto been able to walk like a man, with your face erect 
towards heaven. But now we are below the hill we must 
imitate quadrupeds, or even eels, for an hour or so. You 
have promised most faithfully to comply with my instruc- 
tions ; so, pray, walk and creep behind me, and carry your- 
self precisely as I do. Be like unto the dotterel, who, 
according to the worthy and veracious Camden, stretches out 
a wino: when the fowler extends his arm, and advances his 
leg when the said fowler puts forth his corresponding limb. 
Above all, be as silent as the grave ; and when you step 
upon stones, tread as lightly as a ghost. If your back 
aches insupportably, you may lie down and die ; but do not 
raise yourself an inch to save your life, precious as it is. I 
assure you I am in earnest when I press all this on your 
attention, for it is absolutely necessary. Now let us put 
our caps in our pockets. Heaven bless me ! do not raise up 
your hair with your fingers in that manner. I assure you, 
my good fellow, that just at present it would be much more 
becoming to be bald, or to wear your hair like King Otho. 

"Maclaren, you will remain here, and watch the deer 
when I have fired. Sandy, follow you at a proper distance 
with the dogs ; and come you along with us, Peter, and take 
the rifles. And now, my lads, be canny." 

The party then advanced, sometimes on their hands and 
knees, through the deep seams of the bog, and again right 
up the middle of the burn, winding their cautious course 
according to the inequalities of the ground. Occasionally 
the seams led in an adverse direction, and then they were 
obliged to retrace their steps. This stealthy progress con- 
tinued some time, till at length they came to some green 
sward, where the ground was not so favourable. Here was 
a great difficulty : it seemed barely possible to pass this 
small piece of ground without discovery. Fraser, aware of 
this, crept back, and explored the bog in a parallel direc- 
tion, working his way like a mole, whilst the others re- 
mained prostrate. Returning all wet and bemired, his long 
serious face indicated a failure. This dangerous passage 
then was to be attempted, since there was no better means 
of approach. Tortoise, in low whispers, again entreated the 
strictest caution. 


" Raise not a foot nor a hand ; let not a hair of your 
head be seen ; but, as you value sport, imitate my motions 
precisely: every thing depends upon this movement. This 
spot once passed Successfully, we are safe from the hinds." 

He then made a signal for Sandy to lie down with the 
dogs ; and, placing himself flat on his stomach, began to 
worm his way close under the low ridge of the bog ; 
imitated most correctly and beautifully by the rest of the 
party. The burn now came sheer up to intercept the 
passage, and formed a pool under the bank, running deep 
and drumly. The leader then turned his head round 
slightly, and passed his hand along the grass as a sign for 
Liofhtfoot to wreathe himself alonorside of him. 

" Now, my good fellow, no remedy. If you do not like 
a ducking, stay here ; but for Heaven's sake, if you do 
remain, lie like a flounder till the shot is fired. Have no 
curiosity, I pray and beseech you ; and speak, as I do, in a 
low whisper." 

" Pshaw, I can follow wherever you go, and in the same 
position too." 

" Bravo ! — here goes then. But for Heaven's sake do 
not make a splash and noise in the water ; but go in as 
quiet as a fish, and keep under the high bank, although it 
is deeper there. There is a great nicety in going in pro- 
perly : that is the difficult point. I believe it must be head 
foremost ; but we must take care to keep our heels down as 
we slide in, and not to w^et the rifles. — Hist, Peter : here lay 
the rifles on the bank, and give them to me when I am in 
the burn." 

Tortoise then worked half his body over the bank, and, 
stooping low, brought his hands up on a large granite stone 
in the burn, with his breast to the water, and drew the rest 
of his body after him as straight as he possibly could. He 
was then half immersed, and getting close under the bank, 
took the rifles. The rest followed admirably. In fact the 
water was not so deep as it appeared to be, being scarcely 
over the hips. They proceeded in this manner about twenty 
yards, when, the ground being more favourable, they were 
enabled to get on dry land. 

" Do you think it will do ?" 


" Hush ! hush ! — he has not seen us yet ; and yonder is 
my mark. The deer lies opposite it to the south : he is 
almost within gunshot even now." 

A sign was given to Peter Fraser to come alongside, for 
they were arrived at the spot from which it was necessary 
to diverge into the moss. In breathless expectation they 
now turned to the eastward, and crept forward through the 
bog, to enable them to come in upon the flank of the hart, 
who was lying with his head up wind, and would thus 
present his broadside to the rifle w^hen he started ; whereas, 
if they had gone in straight behind him, his haunches would 
have been the only mark, and the shot would have been a 
a disgraceful one. Now came the anxious moment. Every 
thing hitherto had succeeded ; much valuable time had 
been spent ; they had gone forward in every possible posi- 
tion ; their hands and knees buried in bogs, wreathing on 
their stomachs through the mire, or wading up the burns ; 
and all this one brief moment might render futile, either 
by means of a single throb of the pulse in the act of 
firing, or a sudden rush of the deer, which w^ould take him 
instantly out of sight. Tortoise raised his head slowly, 
slowly, but saw not the quarry. By degrees he looked an 
inch higher, when Peter plucked him suddenly by the arm, 
and pointed. The tops of his horns alone w^ere to be seen 
above the hole in the bog ; no more. Fraser looked anxious, 
for well he knew that the first spring would take the deer 
out of sight. A moment's pause, when the sportsman held 
up his rifle steadily above the position of the hart's body ; 
then, making a slight ticking noise, up sprang the deer ; as 
instantly the shot was fired, and crack w^ent the ball right 
against his ribs, as he was making his rush. Sandy now 
ran forward with the dogs, but still as well concealed by the 
ground as he could manage. . 

" By heavens he is off*, and you have missed him ; and 
here am I, wet, tarred, and feathered, and all for nothing ; 
and I suppose you call this sport. If you had killed that 
magnificent animal, I should have rejoiced in my plight ; 
but to miss such a great beast as that ! — Here, Peter, come 
and squeeze my clothes, and lay me out in the sun to dry. 
I never saw so base a shot." 


" Hush, hush ! — keep down. Why the deer's safe enough » 

" By Jove, I think he is, for I see him going through the 
moss as comfortably as possible." 

" We must louse a doug, sir, or he will gang forrat to the 

" Let go both of them ; it will be a fine chance for the 
young dog ; but get on a little first, and put him on the 
scent; the deer is so low in the bog that he cannot see him." 

Fraser now went on with the hounds in the leash, sink- 
ing, and recovering himself, and springing from the moss- 
hags, till the dogs caught sight of the hart, and they were 
slipped ; but the fine fellow was soon out of the bog, and 
went over the top of the Mealowr. All went forward their 
best pace, plunging in and out of the black mire, till they 
came to the foot of the hill, and then with slackened pace 
went panting up its steep acclivity. 

" Now, Sandy, run forward to the right, if j^ou have a 
run in you, and get a view with the glass all down the 
burn of auld Heclan, and then come forwards towards Glen 
Deery if you do not see the bay there. Come along, Harry, 
the deer is shot through the body I tell 3^ou." 

" Sangue di Diana ! what makes him run so, then ?" 

" Hark ! I thought I heard the bay under the hill. — No ; 
'twas the eagle ; it may be he is watching for his prey. 
Hark again : do you hear them, Peter ?" 

"I didna hear naething but the plevar; sure he canna 
win farther forrat than auld Heclan ; he was sair donnered 
at first, but he skelped it brawly afterwards : we shall see 
them at the downcome." 

True enough they did ; for when they passed over the 
hill to the south, the voice of the hounds broke full upon 
them, and they saw the magnificent creature standing on a 
narrow projecting ledge of rock within the cleft, and in the 
mid coarse of a mountain cataract; the upper fall plunged 
down behind him, and the water, coursing through his 
legs, dashed the spray and mist around him, and then at 
one leap went plumb down to the abyss below; the rocks 
closed in upon his flanks, and there he stood, bidding 
defiance in his own mountain hold. 


Just at the edge of the precipice, and as it seemed on the 
very brink of eternity, the dogs were baying him furiously; 
one rush of the stag would have sent them down into the 
chasm ; and in their fury they seemed wholly unconscious of 
their danger. All drew in their breath, and shuddered at the 
fatal chance that seemed momentarily about to take place. 
Fortunately the stag (sensible perhaps of the extreme 
peril of his own situation) showed less fight than wounded 
deer are apt to do ; still the suspense was painfully exciting, 
for the dogs were wholly at his mercy, and, as he menaced 
with his antlers, they retreated backwards within an inch 
of instant dissolution. 

" For Heaven's sake, Lightfoot, stay quietly behind this 
knoll, whilst I creep in and finish him. A moment's delay 
may be fatal ; I must make sure work, for if he is not killed 
outright, deer, dogs, and all, will inevitably roll over the 
horrid precipice together. Ah, my poor, gallant Derig !" 

" May your hand be steady, and your aim true, for my 
nerves are on the rack, and yet I must own that it is the 
most magnificent sight I ever beheld ; bayed by two furious 
animals, and with the death-shot in his fair body, the noble 
— the mighty hearted animal still bears up undaunted." 

Tortoise listened not, — waited not for these remarks, but 
crept round cannily, cannily, towards the fatal spot, looking 
with extreme agitation at every motion of the dogs and 
deer ; still he dared not hurry, though the moments were 
so precious. 

Of the two dogs that were at bay, Derig was the most 
fierce and persevering ; the younger one had seen but little 
sport, and waited at first upon the motions of the older, 
nay, the better soldier ; but his spirit being at length 
thoroughly roused, he fought at last fearlessly and inde- 
pendently. Whenever the deer turned his antlers aside to 
gore Tarflf, Derig seized the moment to fly at his throat, 
but the motions of the hart were so rapid that the hound 
was ever compelled to draw back, which retrograde motion 
brought him frequently to the very verge of the precipice, 
and it was probable, that as he always fronted the enemy, 
he knew not, or, in the heat of the combat, had forgotten 
the danger of his situation. 


The stag at length, being maddened with these vexatious 
attacks, made a desperate stab at Derig, and, in avoiding it, 
the poor dog at length lost his footing, — his hind legs 
passed over the ledge of rock, and it now seemed impossible 
for him to recover himself. 

His life hung in the balance, and the fatal scale appeared 
to preponderate. Still his fore legs bore upon the ledge, 
and he scraped and strove with them to the utmost ; but, 
as he had little or no support behind, he was in the position 
of a drowning man, who attempts to get into a boat, and, 
being also, like him, exhausted, the chances were consider- 
ably against him. In struggling with his fore legs he 
appeared to advance a little, and then to slip back again, 
gasping painfully in the exertion ; at length he probably 
found some slight bearing for the claws of his hind feet, 
and, to the inexpressible relief of every one, he once more 
recovered his footing, and sprang forward at the deer as 
rash and wrathful as ever. 

Tortoise had at length gained the proper spot, — the rifle 
was then raised, — ^but when all hearts were beating high in 
sudden and nervous expectation of a happy issue, the dogs 
were unfortunately in such a position that a shot could not 
be fired from above without risk to one of them, and the 
danger was fearful as ever. 

Three times was the aim thus taken and abandoned. 
At length an opening : the crack of the gun was heard 
faintly in the din of the waterfall ; — the ball passed through 
the back of the deer's head, and down he dropped on the 
spot, without a struggle. 

" Cadde, come corpo morto cade." 

The dogs now rushed forward, and seized him by the 
throat; — so firm and savage was their grasp, that they 
were with difficulty choked off. The men came cautiously 
on the ledge of the rock, and began to take out the huge 
creature, two at his fore legs, and two at his hind quarters, 
and thus they lifted him out from the course of the torrent, 
and laid his dun length upon the moss. 

" Ou, what a bowkit beast ! Fende his haunches, and 
see sic a bonny head 1" 


" All, this is the best deer we have killed this year, Peter. 
1 have not seem the like of him since the great monster I 
felled on the Elrich, when you put two charges of powder 
and two balls in my rifle ; and the man who cuts up the 
deer so beautifully, at Blair, said he had a hole in his 
shoulder large enough to put his fist in." 

" Will ye never forget that, then ? But yer honour never 
held better, and sure oughten'd a big deer to hae a big 

" Admirably reasoned ; I had forgotten that, Peter. Now, 
Lightfoot, what think you of deer-stalking ? " 

" Why, now we have got the deer, I must own it is most 
glorious sport ; from the time we began imitating all the 
reptiles on the face of the earth, and bowing like the Per- 
sian, my heart was throbbing with excitement. It appeared 
as if all our craft and caution was to lead to some great end 
— an end not easily attained ; which, you know, heightens 
the pleasure of success : and then the bay was sublime — 
positively awful ! To be plain with you, however, I did 
not much relish gliding up the burn, trout fashion, not 
being gifted with fins. And now I am more than ever 
averse from Demaillet's theory, who conceived the globe to 
have been covered with water for many thousand years, 
and that, when the waters retreated, the inhabitants of the 
sea became terrestrial animals, and that man himself began 
his career as a fish." 

"Well, we will have a good round of whiskey, and a 
health to the lord of the forest, who will smile when he 
sees this fine fellow. You got on most capitally." 

" Why, yes, yes, pretty well over the moss-hags ; but that 
confounded hill distressed me exceedingly ; — that, and the 
grouse, mutton-chops, eggs, and rolls, venison pasty, etc., 
drew hard upon my wind, and I should not have been sorry 
to have gone all fours again. But I rallied capitally — did 
not I?" 

"Rallied! why, I never saw you beat; and, to say the 
truth, these mountains are not so formidable as they appear 
to be. I have been more oppressed in walking over flats, 
mashing turnips with my feet, after those little birds called 
partridges, where the action of the muscles never changes. 


/^ ^^m 



than I have ever been on this varied ground, where the air 
is so refreshing and elastic." 

"Well, now you shall see the last offices paid." 

"Ah, that plunging of your man's long knife into his 
chest, which is followed by such a stream of blood, is a 
very kind one indeed." 

The deer, after having been thus bled, was opened and 

"Eh, look to the white-puddins, sir, and see till the fat 
in his brisket and inside, and just pass your hand over his 
haunches. Lord, what a deer ! " 

Lifjlitfoot felt his haunches as desired, and asserted that 
they were enormously fat, with as much confidence as Par- 
son Tralliber would have done, though his conscience told 
him he knew nothing at all about the matter. 

" Sandy, man, tak' the bag and white-puddins, and wash 
them weel at the fall, and bring the bag full of water, 
and we will rinse out his inside, and mak' clean work wi' 

This being performed, they turned his head back on his 
shoulder, and covered it with peats, then shook over him 
a little gunpowder, and tied a black flag to his horns, to 
scare away the ravens. A few peats were heaped up in a 
conspicuous place at a little distance, as a mark to show 
where he was lying. 

" A fair beginning ; now for another round of whiskey, 
and then back to the head of our cast. As you complained 
of being blown in going up the Mealowr, I must tell you 
that there are some tracts of ground that are believed to be 
so much under the power of enchantment, that he who 
passes over any one of them would infallibly faint if he 
did not use something for the support of nature ; it is 
therefore customary to carry a piece of bread in one's 
pocket to be eaten when one comes to what is called ' hun- 
gry ground.' You ate enough, to be sure, but it was at the 
wrong place." 

" What a narrow escape Derig had! It reminds me of an 
event which happened in Sutherland in the Dirriemore 

" A high-couraged dog was slipped after a deer among 


the cliffs and crags on the eastern side of Klibreck. In the 
heat and recklessness of pursuit, he fell down a sloping but 
very steep precipice, and alighted on a narrow shelf formed 
by a projecting piece of rock — in fact, precisely in such a 
situation as my dogs were in, with the exception, that these 
could be approached on one side, whereas this poor crea- 
ture could neither ascend the steep bank from which he 
tumbled down, nor find any practicable passage by which 
he could escape from his terrible position. The rocks 
opposed an insuperable obstruction from above, and the 
precipice menaced certain death below. There was no 
escape — no means of rescue; the spot could not be ap- 
proached by man ; and the poor animal, expecting that 
assistance from his master which it was impossible for him 
to afford, kept up a continual howling for succour during 
day and night. He continued to linger in this frightful 
prison for several days, and the sounds of his voice grew 
feebler and feebler, until they ended in a sharp kind of 
whistle, interrupted by vain efforts to break out into a 
bark. Every kind of project was considered, but no means 
could be devised to save him, for the ground was of such a 
nature, that no one could be lowered and pulled up by 
means of a rope. At length, the faint sounds ceased — his 
flesh was carried away by eagles, and his bones are still 
whitening on the rock. 

" Now, Lightfoot, you are once more a free agent, and 
may get forward in the attitude most convenient to you ; 
and pray talk as much as you please : ' minus via Iceclat.' 
We have no chance of seeing deer for some time, all this 
orround bein": disturbed." 

" What ! are we to go through that confounded peat-bog 
again ?" 

" Do not disparage it, for it abounds in grouse ; and you 
see how useful its black channels proved in concealing us. 
I think its present state better for a sportsman than its 
original one ; for, doubtless, it was formerly covered with 
trees, and the change has been brought about by their fall, 
and the stagnation of water caused by their trunks and 
branches obstructing the free drainage of the atmospheric 
w^aters, and thus giving rise, as you see, to a marsh : this, 


Mr. Lyell has asserted of peat-mosses generally; and he 
mentions also particularly, 'that in Mar Forest, large trunks 
of Scotch fir, which had fallen from age and decay, were 
soon immured in peat, formed partly out of their perishing 
leaves and branches, and in part from the growth of other 
plants.' In the Forest of AthoU, we find everywhere in 
these boofs, roots of trees fixed to the subsoil, so that no 
doubt can exist of their having grown on the spot. My 
men dig some of them up annually, and they make ex- 
cellent firewood, burning with great brilliancy, owing to 
the quantity of turpentine they contain. The eminent 
author I have quoted says also — 'It is curious to reflect 
that considerable tracts have by these accidents been per- 
manently sterilised, and that during a period when civilisa- 
tion has been making a great progress, large areas of Europe 
have been rendered less capable of administering to the 
wants of man.* " 

" I cannot quite assent to this latter remark of your 
eminent geologist, since I opine that venison and moor fowl, 
which the moss now nourishes, are incomparably better 
than oat cake and mutton, and that one of your fine, 
straight-limbed, sinewy Highlanders here are worth a 
thousand of such lazy fellows as Tityrus, and all that class 
of piping milksops : — aye, and Sir Walter Scott would have 
made them more poetical too, or, at least, more interesting. 
Hallo ! by Jove I'm in for it." 

" Heaven bless you I you should never put your foot in 
such a place as that, particularly when you are detracting 
from the Mantuan bard. Never mind, we will get you out 
presently. Here, Sandy, take you the right arm, whilst I 
lay hold of the other ; now then — once — twice — thrice — 
and out you come, rather blacker to be sure, but quite as 
well as ever. Sandy, give Peter the dogs, and just scrape 
off* the black dirt from Mr. Lightfoot with your deer knife, 
unless he wishes to enact the Moor of Venice." 

(Peter Fraser, touching his hat.) " There's no such moor 
here awa', yer honour." 

" These things will happen, but custom will make you 
better acquainted with such traps : let the ground look ever 


so bad, however, you may tread in perfect safety whenever 
you see stones lying about in it." 

" Much obliged for your posthumous advice ; but if I 
had been alone and had sunk in this bottomless bog, I 
should have been buried alive, and advertised for as 

" Something of that nature might probably have 
occurred; but I must tell you for your solace, in case of 
any future accident, that peat* has wonderful antiseptic 
properties, and that you would have remained, though 
dead, in perfect preservation. Many instances are re- 
corded of bodies so buried having been found fresh and 
unimpaired after a long lapse of years ; and particularly 
the body of a woman was found six feet deep in the Isle 
of Anxholme in Lincolnshire : the antique sandals on her 
feet afforded evidence of her having been buried there for 
many ages ; yet her hair, nails, and skin are described as 
having shown scarcely any marks of decay.* Thus you 
might have been exhumed after a few centuries, and put in 
a niche for the admiration of posterity, like the dried bodies 
at Monreale in Sicily, which are by no means alarmingly 
ugly, as I can testify." 

" Highly alluring, certainly ; I am glad, however, I was 
taken out for all that." 

" Well, we shall now go along by the burn side, where 
the ground is firm, and then up that mountain which 
heaves its narrow back so high in the air. You have now 
seen what is termed a quiet shot ; and I hope to show you 
sport of another description before we reach Blair, for all 
our best ground is to come. See, we are to go up this hill 
which leads to Cairn-Cherie ; it will conduct us to the top 
of yonder grey summit, called Ben-y-venie, and there we 
shall have a fine command over all the deer that may chance 
to be within miles of it." 

" Upon my word you try me hard, and, I believe, really 
wish to prove your peat's antiseptic qualities upon my frail 
body. The aerial perspective of that mountain's crest is 

*Ly ell's Geology. 


•exceedingly alarming ; your soil is culpably ambitious and 

aspiring — 

Superas evadere ad Anras, 

Hoc opus, Lie labor est. 

I thought myself as good as any of you at first, but that 
struggle up the Meal-ower (I think you call it) undeceived 
me. A hundred yards of such a steep is, as Falstaff says, 
* three score and ten miles to me.' But by Jove I'll have a 
pull for it ; andlamo dwnqiie, andiamo pwre, and now 
beat me again, if you can." 

The party proceeded obliquely up the hill eastwards, the 
files coverino' each other, and all maskinof themselves as 
much as possible behind knolls and blocks of gneiss or 
granite, under cover of which they repeatedly examined 
the country with their glasses. Had the fate of a whole 
army been dependent upon discovering and circumventing 
an ambuscade, no better tact or caution could have been 
observed. And now they had just gained such an ascend- 
ancy of the mountain, as would enable them to examine 
Glen Mark and the hill side beyond it, called Sroin-a-chro. 
This was an anxious time for the ground was so pre- 
cipitous, or, in other words, so favourable for the sport, and 
Tortoise was so intimately acquainted with it, that good 
success might be expected if there was no lack of deer. 
The little party took care to keep below the sky lines ; and 
all lay down in the heather except Tortoise and Fraser, 
who crept forward on their hands and knees without 
their caps, and then extended themselves on the ground, 
resting their glasses on the little eminence in front of them : 
these they moved slowly and steadily to all the favourite 

" Nae thing can I see forebye a few hinds on the 
Craggan-breach. Surely the glen can no want for harts ?" 

" Heaven forbid, Peter ; but I fear it does, unless they 
•are lying further on. There is a great deal of ground which 
we cannot see from hence, you know." 

Fraser now looked intently for a long while at the same 
spot, and would pay no heed to any thing that was said to 
him. But when at length he turned back his head, there 
was such a relaxing smile on his face, as made it perfectly 


beautiful to a sportsman. These, indeed, were Peter's 
handsome moments, — illuminations that shot across his 
countenance like the sun-o^leam on the moor. 

" Now, where are they, Peter ? for I see you have found 
them at last. Your eyes are ever the best." 

" Creep back, — low, low. They are lying in yon corrie,. 
rather high up. Hey, what fine harts ! Ane, twa, three, 
four ; there are eight a'-the-gither ; twa of them are royal, 
and twa mair there are wi' wide heads and few branches, 
and these, I ken, are the fattest and bonniest of the lot : 
haud weel to them. Sir, if you have a chance." 

"Never fear. Ah, now I see them. You said nothing 
about the hinds, whereof there are several ; and one nasty, 
lop-eared imp there is, some way to the south, before the 
rest ; and if we are foiled, as I fear we shall be, this beast 
will do it, for she was born for mischief." 

" Hist, hist, Maclaren, come you here. Take the glass- 
and examine the deer well, and most particularly that 
sentinel to the south, for she is the beast you must dress to 
when you start the deer. Take care and be well forward 
when you show above her, but so that the harts in the rear 
of the parcel do not get your wind. But it is useless to 
give you any instructions, for you know what to do as well 
as I can tell you ; only take care they do not go tailing 
down the glen, and break off over Aukmark-moor. The 
wind you ken is full south, and a difficult job it will be ta 
make them cross." 

Maclaren looked long and intently at the deer, and not 
only ascertained their exact position, but examined all the 
rest of the ground, to see if there were any other deer that 
were likely to join them. He then sat down with a thought- 
ful countenance, every now and then plucking little pieces 
of grass, biting them, and flinging them away, like one in 

" I'm thinking it'll be no that aisy to get them owcr 
Ben-y-venie ; but I shall try to pit them intill your ground 
at ony gait. The beast will be unco kittle to dale with. 
Ye'll be patient. Sir, and gie me time." 

" If they do not come it will not be for lack of skill, or 
good will on your part, Mac, for a more clever or willing 


man never trod the hills, — in sight and out of it, alike to 
be depended upon." 

" Now, Davy, a word with you. What is that sticking 
out in the right pocket of your jacket ? " 
" That's joost the whiskey." 

" And what is that great lump in your left pocket ? " 
" That's in my left ! Why, then, that's joost the ither 

" But you seem to have something pretty considerable in 
the right pocket of your trowsers; what may that be, Davy ?" 
" That's the wee bit pewter whiskey flask, yer honour." 
" Then that protuberance opposite, on the left ? " 
" Why sure is'nt that the ither pewter flask ? " 
" Well, Davy, thou art most judiciously balanced, and 
thy providence is much to be commended ; just take out 
one of the large bottles, and let us see what it is like. Now 
for the pewter cups, and fill round to every one, that they 
may drink good success to our manoeuvres. You are a 
perfect walking cellar, Davy ; how many bins of whiskey 
you have about you I cannot precisely say ; but we will 
have compassion on you, for at any rate you are heavily 
laden. Just give one of the flasks to Peter Maclaren; — 
nay, give it man, and leave a black bottle with Sandy ; 
and now to your posts. Sandy, set you ofl" for Ben-y-chait." 
" Upon my word, Mr. General Tortoise, you are a very 
mysterious person ; I have listened very attentively to all 
you have said, and silent I have been, as not presuming to 
interrupt the jargon of so consummate a general. As for 
the deer, I do not see them, though I have been looking 
through the glass this long while ; but it seems you are 
going to put some manoeuvre in practice, and I will thank 
you to tell me what your exquisite plan may be. You 
<lon't mean to say that you can get near deer in such an 
open country as this ? " 

" That is as it may be : we shall have to wait here about 
forty minutes, when I will disclose and illustrate ; but I 
must first start Peter Maclaren. Now take your whiskey, 
and away with you, Peter." 

Away went the clean-limbed hill-man down the moun- 
tain, skipping over the hillocks, diving, vanishing, and 


reappearing with a bound upon the moss-hags, like a stone 
hurled downwards in pure pastime. Arrived in the glen, 
he kept twisting and lurching in the darkest coloured 
ground, and, by making a circuit, managed to cross the 
stream out of sight of the o^ame. Here we will leave him 
for the present, full of the importance of his embassy, and 
sensible that all his movements would be seen and canvassed. 
While the sportsmen were lying down in the heather 
awaiting the event of Maclaren's mission. Tortoise pointed 
out the various features and nature of the wild tract of 
country that lay around them. 

" We are now," says he, " on Ben-y-venie, which means 
the middle hill, or if you delight more in its other appel- 
lation, on Beinn-a-Wheadhounedh. That bulky, round 
headed mountain to the right is Ben-y-chait, from which 
we are separated by Glen Dirie. The mountain tract to 
the left consists of Cragro-an-breach, Sroin-a-chro, and Cairn- 
marnach. And this deep glen to the east is Glen Mark. 
You see by the indistinctness of the objects, how deep it 
lies beneath us ; the river that runs through it in beautiful 
curves, as if loth to leave the solitary pass, is called the 
Mark : listen attentively, and you will hear a faint, hollow 
noise coming up the glen from afar ; this is the sound of its 
waters falling into the Tilt. Some few miles away to the 
south, it forces its passage through a gloomy channel 
between the mountain crags, then dives through groves 
of birch wood ; after which begins its ceaseless toil, — it 
rushes headlong into the Tilt, — for ever doomed to struggle 
with still more turbulent waters. 

" Beyond these glens and mountains, many a mile and 
many a hill top lie between us and the end of our cast, and 
the whole is terminated by large pine woods. 

" So much for our ground. You will soon see what we 
are attempting to do with those deer. In sportsman's 
language we have the command of this mountain, as well 
as of the glens and hill-sides on each hand of us, or at least 
we shall have it, when the men are arrived at their posts ; 
for one of them will be on Ben-y-chait, on our right, and 
the other on Sroin-a-chro, on our left : we shall remain on 
this hill in the centre, and they will endeavour to put the 


deer on our hill. This, it is evident from the wild and open 
nature of the country, cannot be done by actual driving, 
but depends entirely upon skilful manoeuvring, which I do 
not endeavour to explain at present, because you are about 
to see it put in execution. 

" Do you see Maclaren, Peter Fraser ? " 

" He has louped the burn, and is in the moss forenent the 

" Now, as I was saying, Harry, I have not much hope 
that we shall get at these harts, but I make it a rule to try 
every possible chance. If we get them on our ground once, 
it shall go hard but we will keep them there the whole of 
the day. I think you will find this stalking in double quick 
time far more beautiful and excitinsj than the o^ettinor a 
quiet shot." 

'•' Is Maclaren behind the hill, Peter ?" 

" No, no, he canna be that far as yet. You ken that 

" That getting a quiet shot, Harry, has its charms, I must 
confess : the threading of the winding passages through 
bogs, up watercourses, and secret places in every possible 
attitude, except that adapted to the nature of a two-legged 
animal, is certainly picturesque and exciting. But then it 
is a sort of assassination ; and you never get the intellect of 
the animal to bear against you, or see his motions, but steal 
upon him like a thief." 

" For heaven's sake, my good friend, do not prose any 
longer, but tell me at once how the deuce we who are 
sitting here have any chance of getting a shot at those 
deer which are fifty miles beyond us. I long to be in 

" Adagio, adagio, you shall see. Do not be impatient, ray 
good fellow ; I will not be chary of instruction when time 
shall serve. — Why, Peter, what the deuce is Maclaren about ; 
will he never get behind the hill : are we to be kept here 
all day ?" 

" Why sure ye'll no be expectin' he'll be there the noo : he 
canna win that far in twanty minutes." 

" Well, w^ell ; the time seemed longer." 

" So, as I was saying, Lightfoot, you must not in this 


case be impatient, but rather imitate the discreet Fabius. 
He would have been a capital hand at a quiet shot." 

" Aye, and a capital proser too. But will you not 'j;ive 
me leave to imitate you, my incomprehensible master, who 
have been fidgetting about, looking at your watch, taking 
up your rifles, and putting them down again a hundred 
times, and are as restless as a hy?ena in a cage ? A pretty 
sort of Fabius you are yourself." 

" No, no, never mind me ; it's only a way I have : or 
perhaps I consider patience as King Charles did morality : 
he loved it, he said, though he did not practise it. But I 
would advise you to — - — . By the powers ! I see him 
now ; he is sitting down above the deer, and examining 
them with his glass. What a capital fellow; he has not 
been more than half an hour. Now he is looking at us for 
a signal : open your waistcoat, and show your shirt, Peter. 
— He sees it : now he is goinor forward behind the hill, and 
will soon start them." 

" Lightfoot, come you here, and observe the beautiful 
motions of these animals, which to me are as entertaining 
as any part of the sport ; but should the deer come near 
us, pray be mute as a fish, and as quiet as the most 
magnanimous mouse ; keeping your hair smoothed down 
like unto those fair nymphs at Portsmouth, beloved of the 
sailors, who comb it straight in front, and cut it to the pat- 
tern of a bowl-dish." 

" Now, take my glass — one of Dolland's best, it is — stay, 
I will direct it to the proper spot : look intently — keep the 
glass as steady as possible — and when the deer are in mo- 
tion, and group together, you will be sure to distinguish 
them, though they are not so easily seen at present." 

" Now, indeed, I do actually see them ; what beautiful 
creatures! They are all standing up, and gazing at the 
summit of the hill. How stately the stags look with their 
jutting necks and towering antlers. Are you sure they are 
not elks? Gad, I think they are. How they are moving 
forward to the hind in advance, which you seem to have 
such an antipathy to. What in the world makes them shift 
their quarters ?" 

"Why, Maclaren is nearly opposite to them, but at a 


great distance above, behind the swell of the hill, and 
doubtless has just shown them the top of his bonnet over 
the sky-line ; but they are all going wrong, and do not seem 
inclined to accommodate us." 

" They are not much alarmed, I think, for now they are 
standing still, and the hind has walked back a few paces, 
and is gazing up the hill again ; the others seem to watch 
her motions, and to be guided by her judgment; whilst the 
harts appear to give themselves very little trouble about 
the matter." 

"No, the lazy rascals ! but we may rouse yet. Yes, they 
are alarmed, or, more properly speaking, suspicious. They 
have that sort of discretion which makes them run away 
in cases of danger ; but you can never frighten them out 
of their wits with so small a force as ours. They are deli- 
berately trying to make out what is going on before they 
decide upon the direction of their retreat, and are too proud 
to fly without evident cause. But just keep your eye upon 
them ; Maclaren will not let them off thus ; he will make a 
push for it at any rate." 

And so it seems he did ; for in a few minutes they turned 
aside, and came a little wa}^ down the hill, gazing in a fresh 
direction more towards the south. 

" By Jove, they are turning ! — capital ! — well done, Mac- 
laren ! " 

" Why how the deuce now did he manage that ; and what 
has made them alter their course ? Why, your men are 
almost as clever as the deer : upon my life this is very 
entertaining, especially now the herd are coming towards 
us ; I feel my heart rioting and beating against the heather." 

" Doubtless, when he saw the deer o-oino- southwards, he 
slipped back cannily behind the hill, ran like an antelope, 
and then came in again over the sky-line, and showed him- 
self partially more in front of them. Faith, I see him now 
with my glass sitting very composedly on that crag that 
hangs over the glen ; his legs seem to be dangling in mid 
air. That is right, Maclaren ; let well alone. The deer 
cannot see you, I know, my man, though we can. One point 
at least is now gained ; for I am happy to tell you they will 
never resume their first direction, for the slight dubious 


glimpse they had of the hill-man's bonnet makes them sus- 
pect an ambush in that quarter; but when they descend 
into this glen, which, as you see, lies some three thousand 
feet below us, they may go straight forward to the south, 
which will be equally bad, avoid our hill entirely, and extri- 
cate themselves from the Caudine Forks without a shot. 
But I hope Maclaren may match them yet." 

" You will think this is slow work, and so indeed it is 
just at present ; but if things go favourably, take my word 
for it, you will have no reason to complain on that score. 
We shall try your wind again, my good fellow, I promise 
you. But at any rate it is no little matter to see the 
graceful motions of the deer, and mark their intelligence 
and sagacity. See, now they stop, and examine all the 
glen before they venture rashly into it ; they scan every 
part of the ground, and gaze so intently that no object can 
escape them that lies within the limit of their vision. 

" I may as well tell you, that if the hill-man had come 
down right upon them in the first or second instance, and 
endeavoured to drive them as one drives sheep, they would 
immediately have raced away straight south, right up 
the wind, and have soon been out of our cast. When 
they see their enemy, they easily discover his drift, and 
take pretty good care to defeat it. See how carefully they 
march, like a retreating army, with their front and rear 

" Beautiful ! and with such measured steps : so stately, 
winding down that horrid rocky precipice, which I should 
have thought impassable by living beast. — What are our 
firmest resolves ? I shall take one of the rifles, if they 
come near enough, notwithstanding my previous determina- 
tion, for this day I mean to immortalise myself." 

" I am rejoiced to hear you say so : and now we must 
crawl farther forward, for the deer are fast sinking below 
out of our sight ; already they are at the bottom of the 
glen, on the banks of the Mark ; and now, Peter, after all 
this trouble, I fear our chance is gone, for they are all going 
straight down the glen, and will not cross to us." 

Here Peter pressed the master's arm, and pointed. 
^" Did you no see yon parcel of hinds there towards the 


shank of our hill ? they canna chuse but join them, and they 
will come ; but it will be low doon." 

And now the skilful missionary, who had a clear and 
commanding view of all these things, began to set to work 
in a more determined manner ; he pressed forward rapidly, 
still out of sight of both parcels of deer ; till at length, when 
he came sufficiently forward, he dashed down the hill in 
full view, shouting, hallooing, and hurling stones down the 
mountain with all his might, — S'oino^ to and fro as the 
deer shifted, — slipping, clambering, and tumbling, in such 
perilous places as would have endangered the life of a 
mountain goat. Greatly to be feared he was, as Polyphemus, 
when he hurled the rock at the Sicilian lovers ; but not 
Maclaren, or Polypheme himself could have put these 
reasoning animals into any state of confusion ; for, being 
too distant from the tumult to be under any apprehension 
of immediate danger, they continued to be perfectly de- 
liberate in all their movements : it was like calm dignity 
opposed to passion. 

The hinds last mentioned, which were opposite them, on 
Ben-y-venie, collected and wheeled about, much admiring 
what all these strange noises might portend. Now had the 
decisive moment arrived when the thinof must terminate 
either one way or the other. 

But let us see what the rifle-men are about. When they 
saw the hill-man storming, and heard the stones coursing 
each other down the crags, they were aware that no time 
was to be lost. Tortoise pressed his friend's arm : — 

" Now, then, or never ! — creep back quickly, and prepare 
for action ; for, by Heme the hunter, they are coming ; low, 
low, for heaven's sake ! We must get on to that large 
stone, and they will all come into our very mouths. Now, 
then, forward ! take this rifle, and hold well at the best 
antlers when time shall serve; be steady, and fire well 
forward, taking care not to drop the gun when you pull the 
trigger. By Jove ! I see the points of their horns. Run 
low, — low, for heaven's sake ! this is not our time. Hark, 
I hear them in the crags." 

The faint clatter of their hoofs was indeed heard by all, 
as they were picking their way obliquely along the rocky 


ridge ; and the stones that they put in motion coursed each 
other down the steep, and gave forth a sound, which, becom- 
ing fainter and fainter, died gradually away, as they rolled 
into the depth below. 

But how uncertain are all the chances of the chase ! 
How Fortune loves to baffle us ! and how wise the Romans 
were to worship her as a deity, and erect a temple to her 
honour ! 

The goddess sulked unpropitious, and her frowns were 
met by Tortoise with the following eloquent exclamations, 
uttered, as was meet, sotto voce — 

" Death and destruction ! they are turning away. Oh, 
what a fine chance lost ; they were coming up so beauti- 
fully 1 Confound ye all, ye regular set of misbegotten imps, 
don't you know your own minds ? But you shall have a 
run for it yet. — GuMi a vol, anime prave ! 

" Come along your best pace, Harry, for the hinds are 
started, and our parcel is racing up to them ; keep you 
above me, which will save you ground ; and, Peter, do you 
stalk the deer, and I will stalk you, which will give me a 
pull also. We will make a push for it yet." 

In pursuance of this arrangement, Fraser peered down at 
the deer's horns, over the ribs of the hill side, ducking, 
skipping, and running, so as to keep out of their sight, and 
nearly along side of them, — the riflemen above keeping 
parallel to him, and dressing according to his motions. The 
deer, however, were steady to their tactics, for they were 
resolved not to come over the steep part of the hill, where, 
by losing the wind, they might come unawares on an 
enemy ; thus they were rapidly advancing towards the foot 
of the hill, where the slope was so open and gradual that 
they could see a long way in advance, and consequently 
could not be suddenly surprised. 

When Tortoise saw how unfavourably things continued 
to go, he persisted no longer in the same direction, which 
would only have given the deer a fresh start, and hurried 
them on to an impracticable distance, without any possible 
chance of his coming within shot of them. 

Thus, whilst there was yet time, he turned suddenly to 
the right, and went rapidly over the hill in a new direction ; 


for as the herd had never seen him or any of his party, he 
judged they would remain for some time at least on the 
round swell of the hill below, which they were now 

This continued exertion was a severe draught upon the 
vigour of the party ; deplored by all, but by none more 
deeply than by the newly initiated sportsman ; in fact, he 
was wholly unequal to it, — his limbs faltered, his knees 
trembled, and his breath came short and loud, till, quite 
exhausted, he lay down on the moor a solitary and forsaken 
man, while his inhuman companions persisted in their 
course. His spirit, however, was unbroken ; for as soon as 
his wind was a little recruited, he got up and followed in 
the line. 

And now Tortoise and Peter Fraser had reached the crags 
on the opposite side of the hill, towards the west. Here 
was an absolute precipice, and large angular stones were 
lying down it, with their edges uppermost. Happy was 
the foot that did not slide down upon their sharp ridges, 
and charmed was the leg that was not either cut or broken 
by them. The two practised hill-men, nothing dizzy, picked 
up their legs like cats, and went down pretty fast ; having"^ 
once begun the descent, indeed, it was not very easy to stop, 
so headlong was the steep. 

And here I am sorry to be obliged to relate a circum- 
stance that, for the sake of their credit, I would gladly have 
concealed, namely, that, from the time of their first rapid 
start, they never once took care of their companion, and, 
indeed, had as completely forgotten him as if he had never 
been of their party ; so absorbed had they been in stalking, 
and so absolutely necessary was it for them to act precisely 
as they had done, or to throw away a capital chance. 

The struggle now was to get under the hill, on the side 
opposite to that part which the deer were crossing, so as to 
arrive there in time to take them as they passed down over 
the boll of it, still preserving the wind. Arrived at length 
at this desired spot, breathless, flushed, and covered with 
perspiration, they crept forward and wormed themselves- 
through the heather, till, from behind a small knoll, they 
saw the deer feeding forward very leisurely, but still restless. 


and with their sentinels looking back towards the east. 
And now the heat of the manoeuvre being ended, they began 
once more to think of Lightfoot ; and Tortoise, putting his 
mouth close to Peter Fraser's ear, as he lay on the ground 
beside him, desired him in a low whisper to beckon him 
alongside of them. "Here is a glorious chancel" said he," 
" and I would not have him lose it on any account." 

" And it's mair the pity he's no here to tak the chance ; 
but I have been speering aboot, and canna light on him. 
Sure as deith, then, but I see him the noo ! eh, that's him, 
Jiigh up in the crags. Lord, Lord I what shall we do ? it is 
an unco' fashions place for a stranger : he canna win forrat 
by himsel at ony gait." 

" We should have considered that before, Peter ; but creep 
back, and send Davy after him, with a caution how to brinop 
him into the ground properly. The dogs will be back in 
time ; and I trust he may yet join us before the deer cross. 
Speed, Davy, speed I" 

Away went Davy over moss and crag, and up the steep, 
waving his bonnet to the vexed sportsman; but there w^as 
no charm in Davy's signs sufficiently powerful to induce 
Lightfoot to alter that' method of descent which he himself 
judged most conducive to the preservation of his existence. 
In vain did the herald keep sawing the air with his bonnet, 
still advancing to the rescue. Our hero found his head 
swimming, and very wisel}^ gave up the upright position, 
and made his way on his hands and knees, as best befitted 
his unhappy condition. At length the messenger reached 
and assisted him, and the crags once passed, both came for- 
ward rapidly. 

Fraser, who had been peeping from time to time through 
a bunch of heather, now pressed Tortoise's arm and whis- 
pered, "Be ready, — they are coming!" Both were lying 
Hat on the heather, with the rifles on the ground, on one of 
which Tortoise had his hand ; but, as yet, he did not raise 
it. They lay still as death till some hinds passed within 
an easy shot ; next came a four-year-old hart, which was 
suffered to pass also : the better harts were following in the 
same direction, and the points of their horns were just com- 
ing in sight, when lo 1 Lightfoot, who liad that moment 


come into the ground, fired at the small hart which was 
galloping away gaily, and gaily did he still continue to 
gallop. This injudicious shot (which of course turned the 
other deer) struck woe and dismay into the soul of Tortoise ; 
up he sprang, and dashed forward, but it was only to see 
an antler or two vanishing out of sight under the swell of 
the ground ; still he went on as fleetly as ever he ran in his 
life, cutting off to the point where he expected the deer 
would reappear in crossing the bottom. There he arrived 
just in time to get a long shot at the last deer that was 
passing. He stopt short as an Arab's courser, and, standing 
at once firm and collected, took a deliberate aim at him. 
The crack of the ball could not be mistaken ; it was that 
particular smack which it makes, distinct from any other, 
when a deer is stricken. 

Davy came forward with the dogs at the well-known 
sound, followed by Lightfoot ; the whole party then lay 
quietly down in the heather, Peter Fraser being enjoined 
to examine the herd as they passed up the opposite heights, 
and keep his eye on the wounded hart. This is always the 
surest way of recovering him, for if you press him, and he 
is not hit deadly, he will get forward in the middle of the 
herd, whilst his wound is fresh, and run with the other deer, 
in such a manner as will most probably occasion you to 
lose him ; but, on the contrary, when he is not urged for- 
ward, and sees no one in pursuit of him, his wounded part 
stiffens, and he seeks ease by slackening his pace, or, if 
badly wounded, by falling out altogether from the rest of 
the herd ; and if he is not badly wounded, you must lose 
him at any rate, — at least you will have no better chance 
with him than with his companions. 

" Now tell me, my way-worn and much injured friend, 
what made you shoot at that little deer ?" 

" A little deer ! a little deer ! hand credo — I thought he 
was an enormous monster !" 

" I must reply as Master Dull, the constable, did to the 
erudite Holofernes, — ' 'Twas not a haud credo, 'twas a 
pricket.' Extremely juvenile he is, I promise you ; but 
you will soon distinguish better. It would have been a 
<lead loss to the forest to have slain him, for his flesh now 


i.s worthless ; whereas, in two years more, he will be fine 
venison. But I would have borne all the blame at the 
castle, in requital for your good temper in not scolding me 
for leaving you on the crags of Ben-y-venie. But hinds 
and harts wait for no man ; and, moreover, I should have 
given up a fair chance had I waited, without conferring any 
benefit upon you." 

" Aye, food for eagles I might have been. All fair, all 
fair ; — I undertook to follow you, and could not, that's all ; 
and, to do you justice, you never looked behind. ' You have 
a straight back, Hal, and care not who sees it.' I am con- 
vinced that you have cloven feet, like Pan, or that fellow 
with a worse name (whom, out of deference to you I for- 
bear to mention), or you never could have galloped down 
that fearful precipice like a chamois. It made me giddy 
at once ; my head reeled, and I was a lost man — an abso- 
lute nonentity, wounded and heart-broken." 

"And heartily glad am I that you are found again; with- 
out bruises you intimate, I may not say, but without broken 
bones at least I may, at any rate. But console yourself ; 
you are not to blame, but rather your half-boots. Get the 
proper material in future, — thick shoes with nails, or Scotch 
brogues — 

• The hardy brogue, a' sewed wi' whang, 
"With London shoes can bide the bang, 
O'er moss and muir with them to gang.' '•' 

* By the foot of Pharaoh,' as Captain Bobadil says, but this 
must be amended. 

"Peter, do you see the wounded deer amongst the lot 
which are foremost ?" 

" Na, na, he's no there ; he'll be coming up ahint." 
" Give me the glass ; I see him plainly enough : he is 
shot through the body, rather far behind, and cannot go 
far. Now one of the deer is licking his wound — now he 
beocins to falter — now he turns aside, and sends a wistful 
look after his companions, who are fast leaving him, happy 
and free as the air we breathe. He is making another effort 
to regain them — poor fellow ! it may not be; you shall never 

* Galloway's Poems. 


join them more. Never again shall you roam with them 
over the grey mountains — never more brave the storm to- 
gether — sun your red flanks in the corrie — or go panting 
down to your wonted streams; — 'brief has been your dwell- 
ing on the moor !' 

" And now I am resolutely determined never to fire at a 
deer again — ^no, never whilst I live. It is a barbarous and 
inhuman practice ; the act of a savage, and ought to be 
punished by branding, hanging, or at least by transporta- 
tion for life. There — (flings down his rifle) — lie there, 
thou villain ! ' hie cestus artemque repono.' " 

" They're a' ganging right, yer Honour, and we shall have 
them again beyond Cairn Dairg Moor." 

" By Jupiter ! so we shall, Peter. Here, give me my rifle, 
most humane of men, and I will aye make a clean shot in 

" And I have seen you mak' clean shots half through the 
season ; but the wee bit ball will whiles tak' his ain course; 
— naethinor mair wilfu'." 

" Now then, Peter, take Percy, and get the wounded hart to 
bay : a fine fellow he is. I need not caution you to pass the 
scent of the herd before you lay him on. There is no hurry. 
In the mean time I will load my rifle myself, and then, 
Peter (you ken what I mean), we shall have no more broken 

" Did I brak a ramrod since last Tuesday ?" 

" Indeed you did not, my good fellow ; you only rendered 
a powder-horn unfit for service ; but I would rather have 
my ramrods broken daily, in the excitement and hurry of 
the moment by a dear lover of the sport like you, than 
have my rifles loaded carefully, slowly, and mechanically, 
by a tame and lukewarm sportsman. Here, take a glass of 
whiskey, Peter. 

" Now, Lightfoot, we will wait here till we see the dog 
laid on. I am vain, you know, of my hounds, and Percy is 
one of my best. You see what a pace Peter is going "with 
my favourite in the leash pulling him onward all the way ; 
— now they are dashing through the stream — now he breasts 
the hill, and has passed the track of the herd, and is trying to 
find the slot of the wounded deer — he has it ! — Percy scents 


it too, and pulls down the leash, straining his nose to the 
ground ; — do look at the eager fellow ! 

" He is slipped, and has overrun the scent : see what a 
cast he makes, with all the dash of a foxhound united to the 
speed of a greyhound : — beautiful ! — there — he has it, and 
the deer is before him, going down towards the Tilt : come 
along, then ; and follow you, Davy, with the other dog." 

Off ran the sportsmen to the river Mark at their best 
enduring speed, and so on to the Tilt, where they expected 
at once to find the bay, but they w^ere wofully mistaken. 
After having followed the wild romantic course of that im- 
petuous torrent for some time, they overtook Peter Fraser, 
who seemed as much at a loss as themselves ; still they 
kept running on, and at length came upon the track through 
a birch grove. Here and there they found the grey stones 
dyed with drops of blood : now, all were sure they heard 
the baying of the hound ; but, although they kept advanc- 
ing with their utmost speed over rock and ridge, through 
burn and cataract, it died away and was lost : again it was 
renewed ; and the sound ceased as before. This was very 
strange! what should make a stag so badly wounded break 
his bay in such a manner ? But Percy would never leave 
him, come what might. Once more, in rounding a point, 
they heard the bay distinctly, and not far distant. They 
gained upon it, and soon the fatal truth broke upon them, 
filled them with astonishment. Could it have been believed 
that, amongst the lonely woods of Glen Tilt, reserved alone 
for ducal sports — sacred as the harem : where neither 
stranger nor traveller w^ere permitted to put a foot unbid- 
den — in a country where the chase, and its customs, and its 
laws, were so well recognised and understood — could it 
have been believed, I say, that a mortal could be found so 
rash as to constitute himself the lord of the chase, setting 
aside the laws of the Medes and Persians ? Yet there 
figured such a monument of audacity. He seemed to be 
a young man ; certainly he had all the vigour and activity 
of youth. He shouted with all his might, rushed into the 
water, assailed the deer with stones, and tried to get in 
upon him and fell him with a sort of bludgeon which he 
brandished. A kilted Highlander was running towards 


him, and, as it seemed, endeavouring to call him off; then 
came forth a general shout of invective from all the party 
as they ran forward. High above the rest rose the guttural 
sounds of the iracund forester. 

In the midst of this tumult the hart broke bay, laboured 
out from the Tilt, and went heavily along through the 
birchen grove, being evidently much exhausted. Percy 
followed close upon his traces ; then came the wild hunts- 
man with whoop and hallo, dashing over knoll and rock, 
through bog and through burn, till he fairly vanished from 
the view. 

" Contremuit nemus, et silvae intonuere profundae." 

" The man's dementit. But sure it's na man, ava' ; it's 
joost the kelpie ; him that left the print of his fut on the 
muckle stane up bye forenent the Tilt, where he grapt the 
deer ; and the deer's fut is there, too, — ye'll ha seen it 
yoursel' sir." * 

Toiling and jaded, the sportsmen followed as best they 
might, replete with wrath, and venting threats of vengeance 
from time to time as their breath permitted ; but not one 
inch could they gain on the fleet-footed stranger. They 
came up with the Highlander, however, and made him go 
on with them as a prisoner. A word or two passed between 
him and the hill-man, who, it seems, knew him. 

Percy's deep tongue again echoed through the pass, and 
it was hoped that the bay would last long enough to allow 
them to come up ; if it did not, they had no expectation of 
outrunning a being whom some of the party took to be 

At length the stag was quite exhausted, and stood again 
at bay in the midst of the rushing waters. Always fore- 
most, superior to every obstacle, and flaming with ardour, 
in plunged the reckless sportsman, intent, as it seemed, on 
close combat. Already was he making his approaches with 
uplifted club, when Tortoise, who had gained upon him 
during the bay, raised his rifle from a distance, — the ball 
whizzed close by the assailant, and down floated the mighfcy 
hart, a lifeless thing ! 

These impressions actually exist at present, ciiiite perfect, in the place 

alluded to. 


The stranger splashed after him, rushed at him, and was. 
the first to grip him and drag him towards the shore, till 
the hill-men came up and took the affair into their own 

When protracted torments, however acute, terminate in 
complete success, it is astonishing how suddenly all precon- 
ceived anger ends with them. Considunt venti fugiuntque 
nubes. Thus it was with Tortoise ; and when he saw the 
open, happy countenance of the English stranger, who 
accosted him as if he had performed the most serviceable 
feat in the world, he could not forbear laughing outright. 

" Fine sport, sir," said the wild huntsman ; — " glorious 
sport ! — butjyou finished it a little too soon ; I would you 
had let me come at him again, — I would fain have plucked 
the laurel." 

" I believe, sir, we are indebted to you for having 
protracted the good sport so long ; for owing to your very 
valorous exertion we have pursued that noble fellow some 
miles farther than we had calculated upon." 

" I am too happy, sir, to have been the means of affording 
you any assistance. I am not a regularly trained sports- 
man, whatever you may think ; but some encounters of 
this sort have happened to me before ; so that, perhaps, I 
may say, ' Sono ancK io cacciatore! " 

" You may say so, indeed, if it so pleases you." 

All were now intent upon the deer, which was a first- 
rate one : he had few points to his horns, being one of those 
originally marked out as the fattest ; he was beautifully 
cleaned, and all the operations being carefully performed. 
Tortoise thought it high time to satisfy his curiosity. He 
learned from the Sassenach that he was an artist, and 
travelled over the country, making sketches, with a light 
knapsack at his back; he had come that morning from 
Badenoch, and the Highlander before mentioned was his 
guide. He was a man, f actus ad unguem, and a magnificent 
walker, and at once recognised by the hill-men as the 
painter who came to Blair two years before, and took 
Macintyre, with the Duke's permission, as his guide to 
Braemar forest. Now, Macintyre was one of the stoutest 
walkers in Atholl ; no step was lighter or more elastic up 


the mountain, — none steadier or more iron-like when he 
bounded down the steep : to him was given strength, 
activity, and endurance of fatigue, beyond the common lot 
of man ; he knew his superiority, and was proud of showing 
it; but, intent as he was in making a grand display to 
astonish the artist, he found himself totally discomfited. 
"" The de'il was in the man ; he skelped awa quite aisy, 
with a wee bit knapsack and umbrella to boot ; " and 
•although Mac very cannily slipped a few stones into the 
knapsack, he was beat the whole way ; and it was a laugh 
against him to his dying day. 

The artist having hinted that these sort of encounters 
had chanced to him before, Tortoise drew from him the 
following account of one of them : — 

He had walked over Norway on a sketching tour, and 
once joined a party of Norsemen who were ringing the 
bear. He carried no fire-arms, he said, like the rest of the 
party, always preferring close combat; — nothing but his 
sketching stool. This, when produced, was found to be a 
circular piece of heavy oak timber, divided into three parts, 
fitting closely, so as to unite, and rivetted together in the 
centre ; but when detached by a sort of twist, the extremi- 
ties were spread, — the lower ones forming feet, and the 
upper ones a seat, by hitching some sort of sacking on their 
points. The thing is a sketching stool in common use, — 
his only differed from others by being made of the most 
solid oak, so that in good hands it was a very effective 
weapon ; and it was with this that he had been attacking 
the stag. 

" I was on skidor," said he, " which you know is a sort of 
long wooden skate, which enables you to get over the snow 
at a quick pace, — rather unmanageable, however, by a 
novice like myself. A young bear having been discovered 
in a cave, I begged he might be put at my discretion, and 
that we might have a combat a Voutrance. They talked 
a great deal of nonsense about danger, but at length the 
point was conceded. I roused the beast with a great stone, 
which hit him somewhere on the os frontis. Out came 
Bruin with a growl, and I then belaboured him over the 
head, and I really believe I should have had the best of it. 


being pretty expert at single-stick, could I have made any 
impression on the beast ; but he only shook his head a 
little, as if he dissented from my conduct. He seemed 
much given to apathy — indeed I never saw a more phleg- 
matic animal; nevertheless he kept advancing upon me, 
and, at length, in spite of my blows, which were numerous 
and heavy, reared himself on his hind legs, and fairly got 
me within his foul hug. I assure you, upon my credit, I 
never felt more uncomfortable in my life; but the Nor- 
wegians, taking the alarm, ran in and dispatched him with 
their long knives : for this they received my forgiveness, 
though the combat was somewhat sullied, the rather, as I 
found the beast was powerful and resolutely inclined, 
though I would willingly have had a longer tussle with 
him. He is not a very terrible animal after all, but, on the 
contrary, somewhat too loving and close in his embraces, 
whereof I felt the effects for a considerable time afterwards. 

" But, really, your Norwegian is always too hasty with 
his weapons. As an instance of what I say, I must tell 
you that I went with one of these barbarous huntsmen in 
quest of a salmon. Day after day, and week after week, 
did I toil without success ; believe me, sir, in all that time 
I never saw a fin. At last the long-desired moment came, 
— I hooked a prodigious monster ; the natives were 
astounded at his portentous size, — nay, some went so far as 
to say that he was no salmon, but the great sea-snake, 
called Jormungandr, in person, whom Thor fished for with 
a bull's head ; but it proved to be a salmon after all, and 
not the great sea-snake. 

" Soon after I hooked him he made a prodigious rush, 
which brought him on the channel in bare water ; the 
officious Norwegian immediately tucked a large iron hook 
into him, which was fastened to the end of a long stick, and 
fairly hauled him ashore. 

" Being extremely disappointed to find my sport termi- 
nate so suddenly, I obliged him to put the fish back into 
the river, that I might kill him secundwrn artem. This 
he was at length persuaded to do, though I must say he 
performed it with a very bad grace. 

" The fish, once more in his element, began to exhibit 


most astonishing power and activity, bending my rod like 
a willow wand, and making my arms quiver again ; his 
runs were so strenuous and rapid, that one of my fingers 
coming in contact with the line, was deeply cut by it. 
After various manoeuvres on his part (which I would fain 
hope I defeated with some degree of dexterity), he at length 
darted down the stream, and ran out nearly all my line ; 
then he shot suddenly across the river, and went up under 
the opposite bank : I pulled strenuously, but my line 
seemed fixed to one particular spot; and whilst I was 
looking at that spot, where I conceived the monster to be, 
I just glimpsed him about twenty yards above, lunging out 
of the river, lashing his huge tail, and towing my tackle 
after him. Soon after this my line came up quite easily, 
and upon examination I found it about fifteen yards minus 
of its fair proportion. As for the salmon, I never saw or 
heard of him again." 

" Aye ! In Scotland this is what we call being drowned ; 
meaning that the line is so, the action of the current and 
weight of water forming it into an immense curve, from 
which position it can with difiiculty be extricated; but 
when you next hook any thing resembling Jormungandr, 
you had better endeavour to take the management into 
your own hands, and not suffer the snake or salmon, as it 
may be, to manage you ; and if he runs out your line with 
a rush down the stream, follow, wind up, and keep above 
him ; should he then attempt to cross, keep your line as 
short as you can, hold your rod aloft, and give him the 
butt. For if you once suffer him to cross to the opposite 
bank with so long a line as you appear to have had, he will 
not become your property — never shall you rejoice over his 
tinselled sides as he lies glittering on the pebbles. Some 
water-elf (for such, I am told, there are in Norway) never 
fails to interpose a great stone or rock between you and 
your fish ; you toddle up the river all too late ; and your 
tackle, assuming Hogarth's line of beauty, bears against 
this obstruction ; the salmon pulling on one side against 
the concealed rock, and you unwittingly on the other ; so 
that betwixt your united efforts, a fracture must inevitably 
take place, were your line even as strong as that used in 


trolling for the great water-bull of yore, when they baited 
with a sheep's head. My advice conies somewhat late, to 
be sure ; but it may be of service to you hereafter. 

" But you really came too late into the world, sir, and; 
should rather have flourished in the time of the Lapithae 
I am convinced you would have been as wonderful as the 
best of them, at least the poets would have made you so, 
which, when a man is dead, you know, is the same thing ; 
and, indeed, had you to-day advanced much closer in the 
combat with this dun beast, you might by this time have 
been a ghost, and taken your rank amongst the shades of 
Ossian's heroes. His horns stab fiercely, and when attacked 
he is altogether very redoubtable. 

" Still I do homage to your wonderful activity, as well 
as to your gallant bearing : overtake you we could not, 
practised and trained as we are ; though this may be in 
some measure accounted for from our previous exertions — 
the extent of w^hich you will comprehend when I tell you 
that we brought this stag from yon mountain top, w^hich 
you see melting into air in the extreme distance — and that 
from the said point to the place where we now stand, we 
have pulled up but twice, and that but for a brief space. 
We have had some sharp bursts, I promise you, which you 
have been pleased to extend : my friend, whom you see 
coming up, will bear witness to this. But really, now all 
is well over, I am much gratified at the pleasure you have 
received. We do not see such sets-to every day." 

The wounded stag had by this awkward encounter taken 
the deer-stalkers so far out of their cast, that the day's 
sport was considered as ended. So the whiskey-bottle went 
round, and all were gossipping together like brothers. 

The Highlander was a well-known good companion, 
pretty considerably addicted to poaching, like many of his 
compeers ; but in this instance he well knew that he could 
not appropriate the deer, and that the rifleman must be in 
pursuit, so that he would willingly have stopped the 
stranger, had it been in his power to overtake him. 

There was a great deal of merriment between the Atholl 
men and this Highlander, who was the Gown-cromb, or 
blacksmith, of some village in Badenoch. He was taxed, 


but in a merry mood, with many dexterous feats of poach- 
ing, and drivinof the duke's deer to the north, when the 
wind served, which he did not altogether deny. 

" Well," said Tortoise, " take some more whiskey, and a 
pinch of snuff from my mull ; but you must not steal the 
duke's deer, man" 

" Hout-tout ! Ye're a true Sassenach, an' the like o' ye 
chiels aye ca' liftin' stealin', which is na joost Christian- 

" Well, what would you give for such bonny braes and 
birks and rivers as are in the forest of Atholl, if they could 
be transferred to your wild country ?" 

" And are there nae bonny braes and birks in Badenoch ? 
Ye're joost as bad as our minister ; but fat need the man 
say ony thing mair aboot the matter, fan I tell 'im that I'll 
prove, frae his ain Bible, ony day he likes, that the Lios- 
mor, as we ca' the great garden in Gaelic, stood in its day 
joost far the muir o' Badenoch lies noo, an' in nae ither place 
aneth the sun; isna there an island in the Loch Lhinne 
that bears the name o' the Liosmor to this blessed day ? fan 
I tell you that, an' that I hae seen the island mysel, fa can 
doot my word ?" 

" But, Mac, the Bible says the garden was planted east- 
ward, in Eden." 

" Hout ! aye ; but that disna say but the garden micht 
be in Badenoch ! for Eden is a Gaelic word for a river, an' 
am shaire there's nae want o' them there ; an' as for its 
bein' east o'er, that is, when Adam planted the Liosmor, he 
sat in a bonny bothan on a brae in Lochaber, an' nae doot 
lukit eastwar' to Badenoch, an' saw a'thing sproutin' an 
growin' atween im an' the sun fan it cam ripplin o'er the 
braes frae Atholl in the braw simmer mornings." 

" But, Mac, the Bible further says, they took fig leaves 
and made themselves aprons ; you cannot say that figs ever 
grew in Badenoch." 

" Hout-tout ! there's naebody can tell fat grew in Bade- 
noch i' the days of the Liosmor ; an' altho' nae figs grow 
noo, there's mony a bonny fiag runs yet o'er the braes o' 
both Badenoch and Lochaber. It was fiag's skins, an' no fig 
blades that they made claes o'. Fiag, I maun tell you, is 


Lochaber Gaelic for a deer to this day ; an' fan the auld 
guidman was getting his repreef for takin' an apple frae the 
guidwife, a' the beasties in Liosmor cam roon them, an* 
among the rest twa bonny raes ; an' fan the guidman said, 
.'See how miserable we twa are left: there stands a' the 
bonny beasties weel clad in their ain hair, an' here we 
stand shame-faced and nakit — aweel, fan the twa raes 
heard that, they lap oot o' their skins, for very love to 
their sufFerin' maister, as any true clansman wad do to this 
day. Fan the guidman saw this, he drew ae flag's skin on 
her nainsel', an the tither o'er the guidwife : noo, let me tell 
ye, thae were the first kilts in the world." 

" By this account, Mac, our first parents spoke Gaelic." 
" An' fat ither had they to spake, tell me ? Our minister 
says they spoke Hebrew ; and fat's Hebrew but Gaelic, the 
warst o' Gaelic, let alane Welsh Gaelic." 

" Well done, Mac ; success to you and your Gaelic." 
" Success to me an' my Gaelic ! I tell ye that the Hieland 
Society, or Gaelic Society, or a' the societies in the world, 
canna ca' again' my Gaelic ! noi; the name or origin o' the 
first dress worn by man, for — 

' Ere the laird cardit, or the lady span. 
In flags' skins their hale race ran.' " 

" We would require proof for this, Mac." 

" Proof, man ! disna your Bible say, ' cursed is the ground 
for Adam's sake,' an' that curse lies on Badenoch an Loch- 
aber to this day; for if there be in all Scotland a mair 
blastit poverty-stricken part than 'ither o' the twa, may 
Themus Mac-na-Toishach's auld een never see it ! an' for the 
truth o' fat I'm saying, its joost as true as any story of the 
kind that's been tauld this mony a day : let them contradic 
me fa can." 

Thus the Gown-cromb's wit at length fairly got the better 
of his patriotism. 



Forests of Badenoch, their rights and divisions.— Legend of Prince Charles. — Cluny Mac- 
pherson. — Adventure with a wolf.— Macpherson of Braekally.— Children lost on a. 
moor. — Sportsmen benighted. — Witchcraft. — Uncomfortable position.— Eraser's 
cairn. — Boundaries of Gawiclt. — Fate of Walter Cumming-.— Wrath of a fairi*. — 
Destructive avalanche.— Convivial resolution.— Arrival at Bruar Lodge during the 

The sun went down behind the hill, 

The moor grew dim and stern ; 
And soon an utter darkness fell 

O'er mountain, rock, and burn. 

The party now separated, the artist being bound for Blair. 
Tortoise and his friend struck across the hills towards Bruar 
Lodge, from which they were about eight or nine miles 

" Not bad, that supposition of our friend the artist," said 
Tortoise, " that he had hooked the great sea-snake ; but one 
does hook strange things sometimes; as, for instance, Mr. 
James Rose, a friend of Mr. Skene of Rubislaw, was fishing 
on his property in the river Dee, it was snowing very 
thickly, and he had on his line a large fly, full four inches 
long, called there the black dog. In a short time he hooked 
what he conceived to be a fine strong salmon, who, however, 
worked as salmon never worked before, dragging the fisher- 
man down the stream at the top of his speed, and making 
his arms quiver again ; at length, to his great surprise, the 
animal began to give tongue, and he found he had hooked 
an otter by the muzzle. This increased his ardour, and he 
dashed along, at some risk, through the water, and over 
great blocks of stone, till at length a high projecting rock 
impeded his progress. Mr. Rose, however, was determined 
enough to throw himself into the Dee, and swim for some 
distance, rod in hand, after the otter ; but unfortunately, 
his tackle failed, and the brute at length got ofi*. Probably, 
however, he was killed afterwards; for a tenant of Mr. 
Skene, whose house was close to the water, was awakened 
one clear frosty night by screams and extraordinary sounds 
issuing from the river : he arose quickly, under an impres- 
sion that some one had fallen into the Dee ; when, to his 
relief, he descried two otters upon a large mass of floating 


ice, fighting for a salmon, which they had dragged upon it. 
They were screeching and yelling in fierce combat. The 
man loaded his gun, and fired at them with success ; for 
when he arrived with his boat, he found one of the otters 
killed, and a beautiful salmon of twenty pounds beside him, 
with a piece only bit out of his throat ; he got a good price 
for the otter's skin, and fed his family with the salmon. 

"And now, as we are journeying on," said Tortoise, "I 
will endeavour to lighten the way by giving you a true 
description of the Badenoch country. I am putting to- 
gether a short account of the principal forests in Scotland, 
and I meant to have reserved Badenoch for your perusal 
with the rest ; but as you have just passed through a large 
tract of it, — and as the Gown-cromb rather libelled his own 
country, and, moreover, gave you but an apocryphal version 
of its history, I will take this opportunity of telling mine. 

" The account I am about to relate, as well as I can from 
memory, was most obligingly given to me by Cluny Mac- 
pherson, chief of Clanchattan, a very celebrated and accom- 
plished sportsman. Thus, then, it runs : — 

" The Earls of Huntly possessed in former times by far 
the most extensive range of hills and deer forests in Great 
Britain; they commenced at Benavon, in Banffshire, and 
terminated at Ben-nivis, near Fort- William, a distance of 
about seventy miles without a break, with the exception of 
the small estate of Rothiemurcus, which is scarcely two miles 
in breadth where it intersects the forest. 

" This immense tract of land was divided into seven dis- 
tinct portions, each of which was given in charge to the 
most influential gentleman in its neighbourhood. The 
names of the divisions or forests were, — firstly, Benavon, 
in Banffshire : secondly, Glenmore, including Cairngorm ; 
thirdly, Brae-f eshie ; fourthly, Gaick ; "^ fifthly, Drumnach- 
der ; sixthly, Benalder, including Farrow ; and, lastly, Loch- 
treig, which extended from the Badenoch march to Ben-nevis; 
these are all in Inverness-shire. 

" These divisions are very extensive ; Benavon compre- 
hends about twenty square miles, Glenmore the same 

* Spelt also Oawicky and Oaig. 


quantity, Brae-feshie about fifteen, Gaick about thirty, 
Drumnachder twenty-five, Benalder fifty, and Lochtreig' 
sixty ; in all about two hundred and twenty square miles. 

" The whole of this vast tract was not solely appropriated 
for breeding deer, for tenants were allowed to erect shiel- 
ings on the confines of the forest, and their cattle were 
permitted to pasture as far as they chose during the day, 
but they were bound to bring them back to the shielings 
in the evenings ; and such as were left in the forest over 
night were liable to be poinded. 

" These regulations answered very well between Huntly 
and his tenants, but they made an opening for small 
proprietors, who held in fee from the Gordon family, to 
make encroachments, and in course of time to acquire a 
property to which they had not the smallest legal title. 

" In other respects, rights were more rigidly adhered to ; 
for the old forest laws, which were exceedingly severe, 
were enforced to the utmost in this district ; mutilation, 
and even death, were resorted to. It is upon record, that 
Donald of Keppoch hanged one of his own clan, in order to 
appease Oluny Macpherson for depredations committed in 
the forest of Benalder ; and it is a known fact, that another 
person, called John Our (John the swarthy), had an eye 
put out, and his right arm amputated, for a similar ofience ; 
and it is also said, that he even killed deer afterwards, in 
that mutilated condition. 

" No alteration took place in these forests till after the 
Rebellion of 1745, when the whole was let for grazing, 
with the exception of Gaick, which the Duke of Gordon 
continued as a deer forest until about the year 1788, when 
it was let as a sheep walk, and continued so until 1816, 
when the late Duke of Gordon (then Marquis of Huntly) 
re-established it ; and it is now rented by Sir Joseph 
Radcliffe. But in consequence of cattle being admitted to 
summer grazing, the present number of deer, as I am 
informed, is not great ; probably not more than between 
two or three hundred. The deer in this forest are small, 
and chiefiy hinds ; but, in all the other named forests, it 
was not uncommon to kill harts that weighed twenty-four 
stone, and even up to twenty-seven, imperial weight. 


" The forest of Benalder is now rented by the Marquis of 
Abercorn, from Cluny Macpherson, chief of Clanchattan; 
but as the sheep were only turned off in 1836, there are 
not many deer in it as yet ; still, as the Marquis of Bread- 
albane's forest is not far distant, they will, no doubt, 
accumulate rapidly under such excellent management. 

" This forest lies on the north-west side of Loch Erroch, 
and contains an area of from thirty to thirty-five square 
miles : the position .is in a south-west direction ; the 
boundary on that side is the small river Alder; on the 
north-west it is limited by Beallach-na-dhu (the dark vale), 
and the river Coolroth (which signifies a narrow and rapid 
stream) ; and on the east it is bounded by Loch Pallag and 
the hill of Farrow. 

" The mountains are lofty, probably near 4000 feet above 
the level of the sea, and many of them of picturesque 
character and majestic appearance. I must not omit, that 
there is a lake of two miles in circumference, at an elevation 
of at least 2500 feet, called Loch Beallach-a-Bhea (the Loch 
of the Birchin Gap). So much for the boundaries, extent, 
and character of this celebrated domain. 

"The legends connected with this forest are numerous 
and interesting. In Benalder is a cave which gave shelter 
to Prince Charles Stuart for about three months after he 
made his escape from the Islands, where he so imprudently 
entangled himself. When he came to Benalder, he was in 
a most deplorable state — covered with rags and vermin; 
but there he was treated with kindness and hospitality; 
and during the period of his stay, he made considerable 
progress in the Gaelic language. Cluny Macpherson and 
Lochiel, faithful, high-minded, and loyal, were his constant 
companions ; and they were attended by a few trusty 
Highlanders, who carried to him every necessary, and 
many of the luxuries of life. 

" Cluny had generally the charge of this forest in olden 
times. On one occasion, a nephew of his, a young man, 
met a party of the Macgregors of Rannoch, who were 
upon a hunting excursion: there were six of them; but 
Macpherson, who had still a stronger party, demanded their 
arms : to this the Macgregor leader consented, with the 


exception of his own arms, which he declared should not be 
given to any but to Cluny in person. Macpherson, how- 
ever, persisted in disarming the whole, and in the attempt 
to seize Macgregor, was shot dead upon the spot. The 
Macgregors immediately fled, and effected their escape : 
one alone suffered, who was wounded in the leg, and- died 
from loss of blood. 

" This unlucky circumstance was attended with no 
farther evil consequences — no lasting animosity — no secret 
vow of mutual extermination ; but, contrary to usual 
custom, it had the effect of renewing an ancient treaty 
between the two clans, for mutual protection and support. 

"When Cluny Macpherson resolved upon departing to 
France, on account of the share he had in the affair of 1745, 
he called upon a gentleman with whom he was intimate, 
and who was a noted deer-stalker (Mr. Macdonald of 
Tulloch), and said that he wished to kill one more hart 
before quitting his native country for ever : the proposal 
was cheerfully accepted by Macdonald, and they proceeded 
to Benalder accordingly. 

"They soon discovered a solitary stag on the top of a 
mountain ; but just as they had stalked almost within shot 
of him, he started off* at full speed, and went on end for 
about two miles ; he then stood for a few minutes, as if 
considering whether he had any real cause for alarm, and 
at length deliberately walked back to the very spot from 
which he first started, and was shot dead by Cluny. This 
circumstance was considered a good omen, and the pros- 
perous interpretation was not falsified by future events. 

" As for the forest of Glenmore, I would advise you to 
keep clear of it, unless, like the northern champions of old, 
you delight in encounters with military spectres ; for it is 
said to be haunted by a fairy knight or spirit called Lham- 
deargh, in the array of an ancient warrior, having a bloody 
hand, from which he takes his name. He challenges those 
he meets to do battle with him; and as lately as 1G69 
he fought with three brothers one after another, who 
immediately died thereafter.* 

* Account of Strathspey, apud Macfarlane's MSS. 


" I must now tell you of an adventure that happened to 
Mr. Macpherson of Braekally, when he had the charge of 
the forest of Benalder. He sallied forth one morninof, as 
he was wont, in quest of venison, accompanied by his 
servant. In the course of their travel they found a wolf- 
den (a wolf being at that time by no means a rarity in the 
forest). Macpherson asked his servant whether he would 
prefer going into the den to destroy the cubs, or remain 
outside and guard against the approach of the old ones. 
The servant preferring an uncertain to a certain danger, 
said he would remain without ; but here Sandy had mis- 
calculated, for, to his great dismay, the dam came raging to 
the mouth of the cave ; which, no sooner did he see, than 
he took to his heels incontinently, without even warning 
his master of the danger. Macpherson, however, being an 
active, resolute man, and expert at his weapons, succeeded 
in killing the old wolf as well as the cubs ; and in coming 
out of the den espied his servant about a mile off, to whom 
he beckoned ; and, with scarcely a remark upon his cowardly 
conduct, told him, that as it was now late, he intended to 
remain that night in a bothy at Dalenluncart, a little dis- 
tance off. They accordingly proceeded to this bothy, and it 
was quite dark by the time they reached it. 

" Macpherson, on putting his hand on the bed to procure 
dry heather for lighting a pipe, discovered a dead body ; 
and without taking any notice of the circumstance, merely 
remarked, — ' I don't like this bothy ; we will proceed to 
Callaig, about a mile off, where we shall be better accom- 
modated.' They accordingly went to this other bothy ; and 
on arriving there, Macpherson pretended that he had left 
his powder-horn in the bothy they had just quitted, and 
desired his servant to go after it, telling him that he would 
find it upon the bed. The servant did as he was desired ; 
but instead of finding the powder-horn, he placed his hand 
upon the dead man ; which, to one of his poor nerves, was 
a terrible shock. He then hurried back in great agitation ; 
and, on reaching the other bothy, found it, to his great 
dismay, dark and deserted, his master having set off home- 
wards so soon as he had started for the powder-horn. 
Terrified beyond m easure at this second event, he proceeded 


home, a distance of about twelve miles of dreary hill, where 
he arrived early in the morning ; but the fright had nearly 
cost him his life, for he fell into a fever, and it was many 
weeks before he recovered. 

" This Macpherson of Braekally was commonly called 
Galium Beg, or Little Malcolm ; and there is reason to 
believe that he was one of those who fought in the famous 
battle of the Inch of Perth, in the reign of Robert the 

" An affecting circumstance happened in this district 
many years ago. Two children of tender age wandered 
from a neighbouring shieling in search of berries and wild 
flowers, and such pastime as innocent and happy souls 
delight in : — they never returned to their lonely dwelling ; 
but after an anxious search, and a lapse of many days, 
were found dead, and locked in each other's arms. The 
place is still called Laggan-na-cloine-a-Caouch, or, the 
Hollow of the Affectionate Children. 

" To recur to the deer, I must tell you, that it is con- 
fidently asserted that a white hind continued to be seen 
in Benalder for two hundred years ; and there is at this 
present time a hind which was marked twenty years ago : 
she is well known to the shepherds, from the circumstance 
of both ears being cut off, which gives her an appearance 
too remarkable to be mistaken. There was also a large 
hart, well known in the forest for a period of thirty years ; 
— he was said to carry eighteen branches. He has dis- 
appeared, however, during the last three years ; but it has 
not been ascertained what has become of him, — whether he 
has been killed, died a natural death, or has changed his 
ground. There is now also a hart, which has been remarked 
for many years ; he has a very peculiar formation of antlers, 
and it is well ascertained that he was shot through the body 
seven years ago, and is now perfectly recovered. I mention 
this chiefly to prove, from other evidence than my own, that 
a deer that has been wounded, has ever afterwards his horns 

" My story, I fear, has been a tedious one, but happily for 

*Vide p. 29. Chap. I. on the Nature and Habits of Red Deer. 


you I must now come to a stop, for all your attention will 
be required in picking your road ; we have some very un- 
comfortable ground to pass over. Had the moon kept clear 
we might have made our way tolerably well, but that black 
cloud has completely mystified us." 

In truth, it had become so impenetrably dark, that it 
was impossible to distinguish the nature of the moor, — 
whether the foot was to alight upon the top of the moss 
hag, or to sink down in the bog ; the burns themselves, 
which ran silently, were not discernible, — no light from the 
sky being reflected on them. Each man struggled on as 
best he might ; but the hill-men supported Lightfoot with 
that kind care and hospitable attention, which is the charac- 
teristic of every Highlander, from the highest to the lowest. 

" Ye niun gang cannily, sir, an dinna pit yer fut doon 
rashly, for the bog is deep, it'll tak ye up to the weem ; 
mony's the beast that has been lost in it. It was na lang 
sin' Sandy Macgregor, him that drives the cattle, lost his 
bonny cow, — the milk had been takken afore by some in- 
veesable hand, or may be by the evil eye, and then the 
beast was gone a-the-gither. For twa days he lookit ower 
a' the green grazings, where aiblins she micht have strayed ; 
aweel, on the third day, he saw the gathering of the ravens, 
and the waving of the wings, and the wheeling aboot in the 
air, and heard the hoarse croakings ; and when he wim to 
the place, there was his bonny beast stuck fast, stark deid, 
a wee bit to the wast of whar yer honor stands the noo ; and 
the foul birds had pickit out his een, and ate his flesh. 
They say that if Sandy had found the cow when the hide 
was fresh, and had takken it aff, and wrapped himsel in it, 
raony strange things would he have heard that nicht on the 
moor. Wha can say what thae birds may be, gin they were 
in their ain proper shape." 

" All this is excellent comfort, my good friend ; but why 
did you bring me here, to devote me to your bog kelpies, — do 
you wish to see another beastie lost, and food for the raven?" 

" God bless you, sir, baud up, and dinna be afeard, ye 
shall no come to harm ; tak my hand, and joost feel the 
moss a wee bit afore ye trust till it. Sandy, man, gang f orrit 
a step or twa." 


Sandy did as he was desired, and a loud splashing was 
almost immediately heard, like to the rising of a muckle 
salmon, when he attempts to spring up the falls of the 

" Sandy, man, I'm thinking ye've got intill the burn." 
" It's nae burn ava', it's joost a deep pool. Ye mun keep 
raair to the wast. Its fearfu' dark, and as sure as deid the 
€vil spirit is abraid, — he couldna have harmed me in the 
burn, for you ken he has nae power in rinnin water. I am 
as weel acquent wi' this moss by day and by nicht as ony 
man in Atholl, and never pool was there here afore." 
" In pool or ford can nane be smur'd, 
Gin kelpie be nae there." 

To describe the toil of the party through these bogs, pits, 
and moss hags, would be only to utter a repetition of the 
same disasters. The darkness was so deep that the men 
could not distinguish each other ; and although their foot- 
steps fell cautiously, yet not one of the party escaped con- 
tinual floundering ; the individual wrath and vexation was 
at first at a pretty high pitch ; but with the exception of a 
slight exclamation or so, it was most philosophically sup- 
pressed. And when at length all were found to be in 
similar perplexity, there was more merriment than anger. 
Everything, however, whether sweet or bitter, has an end, 
and so at length had this their pilgrimage through the 
Slough of Despond. 

As soon as they were fairl}^ through, the blank moon, so 
coy when she was courted, shone out for a brief moment, 
and gave them a glimpse of a herd of deer just passing into 
the shadow. And now they came down to a burn, which, 
wet as they already were, they waded without hesitation. 
Lightfoot alone was carefully carried over on Eraser's back, 
for the channel was obstructed here and there by large 
blocks of granite, which the constant attrition of the water 
makes so slippery, that no unpractised person can step on 
them with security ; and when he loses his footing (as lose 
it he must), down at once he goes into the deep hole that 
the current always excavates at their base. But the sinewy 
and well-shod Highlander went firmly and safely through 
with his burthen, the legs alone dangling in the water. 


This portage was absolutely necessary, for our friend had 
the disadvantage of London shoes, which are somewhat of 
the neatest ; and as the captain of Bewcastle said to Wat 
Tinlinn, the heels risp,* and the seams rive."f* 

They now came to firmer ground, and resolved, though it 
was somewhat out of their way, to strike across to the firm 
cart-track. This was so overgrown with heather, that it 
was not very distinguishable in day-time ; and they were 
now only assured of their arrival at it by scraping with 
their feet, and thus ascertaining that the ground was hard. 

" We are now at Fraser's cairn, and the Lord of Lovat's. 
spirit may be abroad, calling for his horse. Are you not 
horribly afraid, Peter ?" 

" Hout-tout ! Clish-ma-claver, I'm o'er auld farran to be 
fleyed for bogles." 

" And now, Lightfoot, as our difficulties are fairly ov-er, 
and you have your attention at liberty, I will finish my 
description of Badenoch, by giving you an account of its. 
celebrated forest of Gawick. Should you like to hear it ?" 

" Yery much ; it will lighten our way ; provided you will 
leave out everything that relates to bogs, burns, pits, and 
kelpies, — ' an universe of death.' " 

" Well, then, I must tell you that there are many very 
interesting circumstances connected with this forest; but 
though it may be somewhat dull, I will give you a descrip- 
tion of its boundaries before I enter upon them. 

" Its bearing is in a south-west direction; and it is bounded 
on the south by the hills ' of the braes of Atholl,' on the 
north and east by Glentromy and Corrybran, and on the west 
by the Glentruim and Drumnachter hills. 

" In the centre of Gawick there is a plain about eight 
miles long, and in this plain there are three lakes — Loch- 
andellich, Loch Bhroddin, and Lochindoune — all abounding 
with excellent char and trout. There is also another species 
of fish, called by the natives, Dormain. This fish is large, 
has a huge head, and is supposed to prevent salmon from 
ascending to the lakes : some of them weigh from twenty 
to thirty pounds. The hills on each side of this plain are 

* Creak. + Tear. 


remarkably steep, with very little rock, and of considerable 
altitude. On the western extremity there is a hill of a very 
striking appearance ; its length is about a mile, its height 
about one thousand feet from the base of the plain; its 
shape resembles that of a house. This hill is called the 
Doune, and forms the southern limit of the forest. So 
much for the boundaries and locality; now for a tale of 
other times. 

" Walter Gumming was killed by a fall from his horse in 
the forest of Giiwick ; he was the son, I believe, of one of 
the Cummings of Badenoch, and certainly a very profli- 
gate young fellow. Tradition says that he determined on 
making a number of young women shear stark naked 
in the farm of Ruthven, which was the residence of the 
Cummino-s in Badenoch. In the meantime he was called 
away on business in Atholl, and the day of his return 
was fixed for this infamous exhibition. When that day 
arrived, his horse galloped up to the court-yard, stained 
with soil and blood, with one of his master's leo^s alone 
hanging in the stirrup. Search was instantly made, and 
the mangled body of Gumming was found with two eagles 
preying upon it. 

"This horrid circumstance was ascribed to witchcraft; 
and the eagles were supposed to be the mothers of two of 
the young girls intended for the shearing exhibition. The 
place where Walter was killed is called Leim-ramfian, or the 
Fingalian's Leap ; and a terrible break-neck place it is. 

" The fate of Walter is still proverbial in the Highlands ; 
and when any of the common people are exasperated with- 
out the power of revenge, * May the fate of Walter of 
Gawick overtake you,' is not an uncommon expression. 

" The belief in ' spirits of a limited power and subordinate 
nature ' dwelling amongst w^oods and mountains, is, as you 
know, common to all nations, and more particularly to such 
as are of a wild and romantic character. The lonely man 
who journeys over a vast uninhabited, space, feels himself 
almost unconnected with human society ; and when dark- 
ness falls upon the moor, objects of dubious form loom 
around him and disturb his imagination. 

" Thus traditions of witches and fairies are numerous in 


the forest of Gawick ; one at least I will give you as a 
specimen of their character. 

" Murdoch, a noted deer-stalker, went at sunrise into the 
forest, and, discovering some deer at a distance, he stalked 
till he came pretty near them, but not quite within shot. 
On looking over a knoll, he was astonished at seeing a 
number of little neat women, dressed in green, in the act of 
milking the hinds. These he knew at once to be fairies ; 
one of them had a hank of green yarn thrown over her 
shoulder, and the hind she was milking made a grab at the 
yarn w^ith her mouth and swallowed it. The irritable little 
fairy struck the hind with the band with which she had 
tied its hind legs, saying at the same time, ' May a dart from 
Murdoch's quiver pierce your side before night;' for the 
fairies, it seems were well apprised of Murdoch's skill in 
deer-killing. In the course of the day he killed a hind,, 
and in taking out the entrails he found the identical green 
hank that he saw the deer swallow in the morning. This 
hank, it is said, was preserved for a long period as a testi- 
mony of the occurrence. 

" This was not our deer-stalker's only adventure ; for 
upon another occasion, in traversing the forest, he got 
within shot of a hind on the hill called the Doune, and took 
aim ; but when about to fire, it was transformed into a 
young woman. He immediately took down his gun, and 
again it became a deer ; he took aim again, and anon it was 
a woman ; but on lowering his rifle, it became a deer a 
second time. At length he fired, and the animal fell in 
the actual shape of a deer. No sooner had he killed it 
than he felt overpowered with sle^p ; and having rolled him- 
self in his plaid, he lay down on the heather : his repose 
was of short duration, for in a few minutes a loud cry was 
thundered in his ear, saying, * Murdoch, Murdoch ! you have 
this day slain the only maid in Doune.' Upon which Mur- 
doch started and relinquished his spoil, saying, ' If I have 
killed her, you may eat her ; ' he then immediately quitted 
the forest as fast as his legs could carry him. 

" This man was commonly called Munack Mach-Jan, or 
Murdoch, the son of John ; his real name, however, was 
Macpherson ; he had a son who took orders, and obtained a 


living in Ireland ; and it is said that the late celebrated R. 
B. Sheridan was descended from one of his daughters. 

" The most extraordinary superstition prevalent was that 
of the Liannan-Spell, or fairy sweethearts; and all inveterate 
deer-stalkers, who remained for nights, and even weeks, in 
the mountains, were understood to have formed such con- 
nexions. In these cases the natural wife was considered 
to be in great danger from the machinations of the fairy 

" I noAv come to the relation of a story better vouched 
for, and of a melancholy nature, which happened in the 
year 1800. Captain John Macpherson, of Ballachroan, with 
four attendants, and several fine deer-hounds, was killed by 
an avalanche in Gawick. The house in which they slept (a 
strong one) was swept away from the very foundation, and 
part of the roof carried to the distance of a mile. This 
catastrophe was ascribed by some to supernatural agency, 
and a great deal of superstitious exaggeration was circu- 
lated, to the annoyance of Captain Macpherson's family and 

" But a more public, a more wide-spreading calamity, has 
lately befallen. The gallant spirit is fled — the benefactor, 
the father, the beloved of his people, is gathered to the 
tomb of his fathers. Mournfully has his lament sounded 
from the dumb heights of Corrie-arich, and been borne over 
many a mountain, and through many a glen, from the 
hospitable shores of the Spey to the dark pines of Rothie- 

"Thus sadly ends my account* of the possessions of the for- 
mer Earls of Huntly ; and our journey is nearly ended also. 
Yon speck of light that you see at a distance below, about 
the size of a half -grown glow-worm, shines in Bruar Lodge. 
But let us mend our pace, for foul weather is coming on." 

" Aye, you may mend yours, but you w^ill mar mine : 
have at you, however. I am lighter than I was, and will 
be more frugal at breakfast another time ; it was that which 
touched my wind. I must be eating venison pasty and 
mutton chops, forsooth ; catch me at that again in the 

* In allusion to the late Duke of Gordon. 


morning. I'll match you yet. But by all the gods above, 
I will make such a dinner this night as shall content my 
inward man, and distress your menage exceedingly." 

" Never fear, we are tolerably provided." 

And now they were before the rugged walls of old Bruar. 
Out came a servant with a lighted candle, twinkling, and 
vainly contending with the rain and wind. The door at 
the end of the little passage opened upon a blazing fire of 
bog- wood and peat ; the table-cloth was invitingly spread. 
Each before dressing drank a tumbler— 

" Di quel buon Claretto, benedetto, 
Che si spilla in Avignone." 

And here we leave our men to the performance of such 
convivial deeds as Abernethy abhorred, and Cornaro was 
an utter stranger to. 



Necessary qualifications for a deer-stalker.— Curious attitudes required.— Sleep almost 
superfluous. — Advantages of baldness. — Self-possession indispensable.— Abstinence 
from drinking-, and restrictions in food.— Gormandizer's pastime.— Royal diversion. 
— Sportsman's philosophy. — George Ritchie, the fiddler. — Crafty movements. — 
Currents of air. — Passing difficult ground. — Range of the rifle. — Firing at the target. 
Tempestuous winds.— A tyro's distress.- Overwhelming kindness.— Of speed and 
wind.— John Selwyn.— Wilson, the historian.— Glengarry. 

0, this life 

Is nobler than attending for a check ; 
Richer than doing nothing for a bauble ; 
Prouder, than rustling in unpaid-for silk." 


I WAS so impatient to get on the moor, and to plunge at 
once, as it were, in medias res, that I omitted in the first 
instance to describe what sort of properties a deer-stalker 
should be decorated with. And although most of these 
might be easily divined by the practised sportsman from a 
perusal of these pages, still it may be as well to touch 
slightly upon a few others that are absolutely indispens- 


If a sporting gentleman was asked what was the best 
makeior speed and endurance of fatigue, he would pro- 
bably describe his own figure as accurately as possible, and 
that with the greatest appearance of candour, looking 
around upon his fair or foul proportions, as it may happen. 
In this there is abundance of encouragement ; and, indeed, 
I am inclined to think that men go in almost all shapes, 
excepting, perhaps, those of Geoffrey Hudson, Daniel 
Lambert, and the Irish or any other giant. One of the 
most active men I ever saw was Richmond, the black 
pugilist, and he was knock-kneed to a deformity. Set 
before me a man that is long from his hip downward, 
closely ribbed up, and with powerful loins ; take care that 
he be straight, and of the happy medium between slim and 
stout ; let his muscle be of marble, and his sinews of steel. 
Heavens, how the fellow will step out ! And what tre- 
mendous odds are half a foot in every step ! See with 
what an elastic spring he recovers his legs ! I swear by 
Atalanta and Achilles, the swift of foot, that this is the 
man I would back to go right up the Andes without deviat- 
ing an iota from the straight line. I must add, however, 
that his lungs should be pre-eminent, because in long runs 
(say of six or seven miles at a stretch), through bogs and 
over mountains, wind will be found an article most par- 
ticularly in demand. After all, a man should be trained in 
the way he should go as soon as he is out of petticoats ; if 
not, the symmetry of the Antinous will avail him nought. 
I liave not the slightest doubt, indeed, but that Pan would 
have caught Daphne much sooner than Apollo. He would 
have made a much better run, and probably a better thing 
of it altogether. 

Now, this is all very well ; but your consummate deer- 
stalker should not only be able to run like an antelope, and 
breathe like the trade winds, but should also be enriched 
with various other undeniable qualifications. As, for 
instance, he should be able to run in a stooping'position, at 
a greyhound pace, with his back parallel to the ground, and 
his face within an inch of it, for miles together. He should 
take a singular pleasure in threading the seams of a bog, 
or in gliding down a burn, ventre a terre, like that insinuat- 


ing animal the eel, — accomplished he should be in skilfully 
squeezing his clothes after this operation, to make all com- 
fortable. Strong and pliant in the ankle, he should most 
indubitably be ; since in running swiftly down precipices, 
picturesquely adorned with sharp-edged, angular vindictive 
stones, his feet will unadvisedly get into awkward cavities, 
and curious positions ; — thus, if his legs are devoid of the 
faculty of breaking, so njuch the better, — he has an evident 
advantage over the fragile man. He should rejoice in 
wading through torrents, and be able to stand firmly on 
water- worn stones, unconscious of the action of the current ; 
or if by fickle fortune the waves should be too powerful for 
him, when he loses his balance, and goes floating away upon 
his back (for if he has any tact, or sense of the picturesque, 
it is presumed he will fall backwards), he should raise his 
rifle aloft in the air, Marmion fashion, lest his powder should 
get wet, and his day's sport come suddenly to an end. A 
few weeks' practice in the Tilt will make him quite aufait 
at this. We would recommend him to try the thing in a 
spate, during a refreshing north wind, which is adverse to 
deer-stalking ; thus no day will be lost pending his educa- 
tion. To swim he should not be able, because there would 
be no merit in saving himself by such a paltry subterfuge ; 
neither should he permit himself to be drowned, because we 
have an affection for him, and moreover it is very cowardly 
to die. 

As for sleep, he should be almost a stranger to it, activity 
being the great requisite ; and if a man gets into the sloth- 
ful habit of lying a-bed for flve or six hours at a time, I 
should be glad to know what he is fit for in any other 
situation ? Lest, however, we should be thought too 
niggardly in this matter, we will allow him to doze occa- 
sionally from about midnight till half-past three in the 
morning. Our man is thus properly refreshed, and we 
retain our character for liberality. 

Steady, very steady, should his hand be, and at times 
wholly without a pulse. Hyacinthine curls are a very 
graceful ornament to the head, and accordingly they have 
been poetically treated of ; but we value not grace in our 
shooting jacket, and infinitely prefer seeing our man, like 


Dante's Frati, " che non hanno coperchio piloso at capo ;" 
because the greater the distance from the eye to the extreme 
point of the head, so much the quicker will the deer discover 
their enemy, than he will discover them. His pinnacle or 
predominant, therefore, should not be ornamented with a 
high finial or tuft. Indeed, the less hair he has upon it the 
better. It is lamentable to think that there are so few 
people who will take disinterested advice upon this or any 
other subject ; but without pressing the affair disagreeably, 
I leave it to a deer-stalker's own good sense to consider 
whether it would not be infinitely better for him to shave 
the crown of his head at once, than to run the risk of losing 
a single shot during the entire season. A man so shorn, 
with the addition of a little bog earth rubbed scientifically 
over the crown of his head, would be an absolute Ulysses 
on the moor, and (cceteris paribus) perfectly invincible. Do 
this or not, as you please, gentleman ; I am far from insist- 
ing upon it with vigour, because, to my utter shame and 
confusion, be it spoken, I never did it myself. 

When Sir Francis Head fled over the Pampas, mounted 
upon wild horses, as if upon the griffin of Astolfo, he must 
have felt a sense of buoyancy and freedom that it would be 
difficult to describe. Astride upon the monstrous crocodile, 
Mr. Water ton must have rejoiced in his novel position and 
fair feats of jockeyship. But neither Mr. Waterton, nor he 
the subduer of the crocodile and python, can possibly feel 
more secret exultation than the well trained pedestrian, 
confident in his speed, secure in his aim, and unbaffled in 
his science. 

As to mental endowments, your sportsman should have 
the qualifications of an Ulysses and a Phillidor combined. 
Wary and circumspect, never going rashly to work, but 
surveying all his ground accurately before he commences 
operations, and previously calculating all his chances both 
of success and of failure. Patient under suspense and dis- 
appointment, calm and unruffled in moments of intense 
interest, whether fortune seems to smile or frown on his 
exertions ; and if his bosom must throb at such times, when 
hopes and fears by turns assail it, he should at all events 
keep such sensations under rigid control, not suffering them 


to interfere with his equanimity, or to disturb the coolness 
and self-possession which at such moments are more than 
ever necessary to his operations. 

And that he may preserve in all their due vigour and 
steadiness these indispensable qualities, he should add to 
them in his hours of leisure and refreshment the further 
graces of temperance and moderation. And here condemn 
me not, ye joyous editors of Maga, if I restrict my stalker 
to moderate libations after his toil. 

Odogherty, be merciful ; Christopher, put down thy 
bristles; for lo, I will not limit him as Sir Humphry does his 
fisherman, to the philosopher's half -pint of claret ; but, if 
he exceed it, 'tis at his own peril. Wine and poetry go 
joyously together. Bacchus and Apollo were aye boon com- 
panions ; but I never heard of Diana having attached herself 
to the jolly god, or of an amour between Hebe and Adonis. 
Hard work upon wine will parch up the body, and make 
the hand ricketty — you ken that yoursel', Christopher. A 
keen deer-stalker's walk will keep a horse in a pretty 
decent trot, and his run changes that trot into a gallop, a 
sort of eclipse pace. Would you then have him BaccJd 
plenus ? Yes, I verily believe you would. Well, my good 
Anacreon, only just try that system yoursel' a wee bit. 
During the first week, your mouth will be drinking bog- 
water in every black pool you can find ; in the next, 
your flesh will vanish from your solitary bones ; and, in the 
third — yes, in the third, at latest — you will die by spon- 
taneous combustion. 

1 he best part of a bottle of champagne may be allowed 
at dinner : this is not only venial, but salutary. A few 
tumblers of brandy and soda-water are greatly to be com- 
mended, for they are cooling. Whiskey cannot reasonably 
be objected to, for it is an absolute necessary, and does not 
come under the name of intemperance, but rather, as Dog- 
berry says, or ought to say, " it comes by nature." Ginger 
beer I hold to be a dropsical, insufficient, and unmanly 
beverage ; I pray you avoid it ; and as for your magnums 
and pottle-deep potations, why, really at this season of the 
year, as Captain Bobadil says, " We cannot extend thus 
far." When the nerves are unsteady, the rifle in the sports- 


man's man begins to betray a want of fixed purpose and 
resolution ; it does, as it were, vibrate considerably. Under 
these circumstances the balls are apt to take many unto- 
ward directions, such as are wholly unlooked for, and not 
fitted to maintain his reputation. Very wanton courses 
they will sometimes take, dabbing into a bog, or smacking 
against a stone ; the deer all the while scampering and gal- 
loping away, freedom in their air, and independence in their 
heels ! Already they have broken out of your cast — now 
they vanish over the hill — and by the direction they are 
taking, it grieves me to say that you are not likely to see 
them again this blessed day. 

Having thus somewhat stinted my rifleman in his pota- 
tions, it may possibly be inferred that I allow him to make 
up for such abstinence in the article of substantial food. 
This is a great mistake ; I permit him to do no such thing ; 
and most particularly do I restrict him at breakfast. 

Should a deer-stalker eat and stuff" ? — should he pamper 
the inward man ? Shade of Abernethy forbid ! He should 
go forth lank and lean like a greyhound ; the most that can 
be permitted him is a few cups of coffee, a moderate allow- 
ance of fine flowery pekoe, some venison pasty, mutton-chops 
(both are easy of digestion), a broiled grouse, of course, hot 
rolls, dry toast, and household bread, with a few grapes to 
cool him. Peaches and nectarines may be put in his pocket, 
because, as he will be sure to sit upon them, they will do 
him no earthly harm, but rather confer a benefit by moisten- 
ing the outward man. But here I must stop : at this point 
the muzzle must positively be put on ; for would you have 
me fill my man with Findon haddocks, and all the trashy 
and unprofitable varieties of marmalade: red, green, and 
yellow ? What a proposition ! Oh, no ; I say again in no 
manner, and by no means will I let him gormandise. After 
the slender fare above mentioned, he will bound along like 
a Grimaldi ; and let me see a hearty eater that has the 
least chance with him. 

Can a man with a full stomach dash up Ben Derig ? 
Vain hope ! He would sink down gently in the first bog ; 
nought save his head appearing above the surface ; and the 


raven would feed upon his scalp, as Ugolino did upon the 
cruel archbishop's. 

Ye who eat long like your mothers, and fast like your 
fathers — ye, believe me, had much better remain at home 
with your household gods, and cultivate decisive apoplexies. 
Everybody will tell you how well you look ; so let out your 
waistcoats and your waistbands most amply, my much 
cherished friends — eat, drink, and be happy ; or if the god 
of sport be warm within you, if so great — such an inex- 
tinguishable ardour burns in your bosoms, arrange your- 
selves, I pray you, in an ample punt on a domestic fishpond, 
with a rod, a line, and that admirable contrivance the float ; 
but let not your obese fingers aspire to dally with a rifle. 

Tell me now, could you hit any given acre of land at fifty 
paces ? I should rather think not. As for a rifle, then, have 
nothing to do with it, I beseech you, my good fellows, lest 
it should go ofl" unadvisedly. We are ready to give you 
every possible credit for your private and domestic virtues ; 
— you are good fathers, the best of husbands, and the most 
excellent of friends — in short, ornaments to society ; much 
more valuable members of it, indeed, than we minions of 
the mountains. What ! does not this satisfy you ? Do you 
mutin}^ in your punt, and are you determined to reject our 
wholesome advice ? Well, then, we admire your spirit 
which soars so high above your corporal capacity, and since 
you are so determined, we will grant you our license to 
sport with the stag after the self -same fashion with Queen 

Thus it was : — When the said Queen, of glorious memory 
visited Lord Montacute at Cowdrey in Sussex, on the 
Monday, August I7th, 1591, her Highness took horse and 
rode into the park at eight o'clock in the morning, " where 
was a delicate bowre prepared, under which were her 
Highness' musicians placed ; and a cross-bow, by a nymph 
with a sweet song, was delivered into her hands to shoot at 
the deere ; about some thirty were put into a paddock, of 
which number she killed three or four, and the Countess 
of Kildare, one."* 

* NicoU's Progresses vol. ii. 


This is the exact thing for you, and I pray you not to 
omit the nymph with the sweet song. 

After all, we doubt not your resolution to attack the 
stag, or any other fierce animal, for we have had a very 
high opinion of the courage of a well-fed man ever since 
we heard the story that Wilkes delighted to tell of 
Alderman Sawbridge, which, for your satisfaction, wq will 

The Alderman was induced to go a-hunting, a sport that 
was novel to him ; and having some sort of indistinct idea 
that danger was connected with it, he went forth in the 
uniform of the city train bands, to which he belonged. 
Being told that the hare was coming his way, he boldly 
laid his hand on the hilt of his sword, and replied, with 
perfect self-possession, " Is he sir ? let him come ! " 

And now a word of advice to your well qualified sports- 
man — I beseech you, good sir, to bear bad weather and 
inauspicious winds with imperturbed philosophy. When 
the adverse day comes, as come it will; when the dark 
clouds gather round your desolate cottage, and the rain 
comes lashing and hissing along the moor, and the heather 
is uprooted by the blast, do not give way to despondency ; 
but rest your toil-worn limbs, and be thankful tiiat you 
have fire and shelter. Sit you down with your hand in 
your mantle (that is, your plaid), with the composed 
dignity of Aris tides. 

It is totally unavailing to look sulky, and to pace up and 
down the room, exclaiming at every step you take. What 
horrid weather ! how very provoking! I never knew this 
sort of thing have the least eflfect upon the elements : betray 
not, I beseech you, the impotency of Xerxes, but fall back 
upon your resources. Read some amusing or instructive 
book, or if a book is apt to draw you to sleep (as it does 
full many a sportsman), get a piece of canvas nicely 
prepared by Mr. Browne of High Holborn, and paint your 
men and your dogs if you can ; if you cannot, why then 
clean the locks of your rifles, sort your fishing tackle, and 
make flies ; or if you are of a self-complacent character, 
you may summon your hill-men, and make it out, not in 
direct terms (you know how to manage it, I dare sa^), but 


by skilful inference, that you are, out of sight, the best 
shot in Great Britain: pass round the whiskey, and you 
may be certain of a ready acquiescence. 

Then when the night closes in, you may call in George 
Ritchie, the fiddler and wit, if he happens to be in your 
train. Oh ! George, how well I remember your speaking 
countenance — your capacious mouth — and your mighty 
ears. You are a good fellow, George, and were a most 
admirable deer driver to the lord of the forest, and for this 
I honour thee; but thou didst play me many a slippery 
trick by neglecting orders when thou wert wont to carry 
home the dead deer ; for, instead of coming in behind my 
cast as instructed, thou didst ever cut in before me, and 
disturb all the ground in a most unsportsmanlike manner ; 
and this thou didst transact most cannily, winding up a 
hollow with thy sheltie, that mine eye might not visit thee ; 
yet I kent well enough what was going on, George, by the 
movement on the moor ; but alas ! poor George, you were 
growing old, and had a right to favour yourself a little; 
and then thou wert merry in hall, and thy quaint attitudes, 
and quainter countenance (whilst thou didst worry the 
strings of thy fiddle) did set the gillies in a roar: — for 
these, thy most excellent qualities, I do recommend thy 
presence to get up a Highland reel in a stormy evening. 

I must now revert to you few, O happy mortals, " quos 
ceqiius mnavit Jupiter," and I must candidly tell you, that 
I cannot turn you loose on the mountains to go rambling 
after your own inventions. 

Enthusiasm you have, no doubt, else wherefore soar you 
to the mountain top ? But this solitary qualification, 
indispensable as it is, will not set you up entirely. You 
must have extreme caution in certain situations, and at the 
same time, prompt decision and execution: boldness also, 
amounting to rashness in others ; always, indeed, a happy 
mixture of the two in the same movement ; — in short, you 
should be constituted something after the fashion of Sardus 
Tigellius — 

" Saepe velut qui 
Currebat, fugiens hostem, persaepe velut qui 
• Junonis sacra ferret." 


I know nothino^ more beautiful than the runninoj of a 
skilful deer-stalker, when the harts are in quick motion. 
He dashes after, or parallel to them, in order to come in at 
certain places ; but never blindly, never straight forward, 
as if he could overtake them ; but winding, sweeping, and 
lurching behind the ridges and hillocks, or down a narrow 
chasm, or up the stony channel of a burn, just keeping sight 
of the points of their horns ; stooping or rising, moderating 
or increasing his pace according to circumstances, always 
preserving the wind, and taking care never to commit 
himself by coming upon such an open tract of ground as 
would fairly expose him to view ; such blind rashness 
would hurry on the herd, and give them a fresh start for 
miles ; for even if he should discover a solitary hillock, or 
block of granite, behind which he could find time to conceal 
himself for the moment, still he could not advance from 
this position, and he would be what is technically called 
" locked in." 

Every person, ? believe, who carries a rifle, is aware that 
when deer are disturbed, they always move up wind. They 
have an astonishing faculty of smelling the taint in the air 
at an almost inconceivable distance ; being thus warned by 
instinct, they are enabled to avoid an enemy in front, and 
can go boldly forward over rugged ground and high points, 
without being surprised by an ambush. It would appear, 
then, at the first glance, that one's manoeuvres, so far as 
relates to the wind, would be simple and easily conducted ; 
but this is by no means the case, — the currents of air change 
according to the disposition of the ground ; there are corries 
so situated that the swells of wind come occasionally from 
various quarters, and there are burns whose general tendency 
is in a direct line, but in whose various curvatures, the 
wind comes sometimes from the north, and at others from 
the opposite quarter ; for it must be noted, that it always 
blows up or down a glen, — never across it. 

Thus, in particular situations, you cannot ascertain the 
exact course of the wind without consulting that of the 
clouds, to which a hill-man always looks ; but in all doubt- 
ful points, when the sky is cloudless, and the air tolerably 
still, a little tow dropped from your hand will indicate its 


course. When a lesser glen or burn debouches into another 
where the deer are on foot, and the current of air is one 
point only against you, your wind will be carried down the 
glen you pass, into the other at right angles to it, so that 
you must let all the deer pass the point of connection be- 
tween the two glens before you cross the one in question. 

It is impossible to describe the various nice points and 
wanes of the air that may occur in the course of the day ; 
they can only be understood by long practice and observ- 
ation ; and observe, my good friend, that the most extreme 
caution is indispensable as to this point ; for, without mean- 
ing any disrespect to you, you have such a 7)%auvaise odeur 
about you, that the deer fancy you more formidable than 
you are, and your taint will make them break out of your 
cast : look not after them, I beseech you : it is vanity. By 
the help of a good pair of wings you may possibly fly ; 
Icarus and the XJlm tailor did so before you ; but those deer 
shall you never command on that inauspicious day. 

The hill-men who act at a distance from you must use 
the same precaution with yourself in paying attention to 
the wind, and shifting their ground in obedience to any 
change that may take place in the course of the day. 

There are some few cases when deer may be made to go 
contrary to their usual custom ; thus in the forest of Atholl, 
when a herd comes out of Glen Croinie (which is a preserve, 
and may be called their home), they can readily be got back 
by good management, even if the wind is unfavourable 
— especially towards the evening, when they seek the 

Deer may likewise be got down wind by sending men to 
take concealed positions in their front ; the taint in the air 
will then turn them. 

When there is a long line of deer on foot, in running 
parallel to them you must be careful not to get too forward, 
lest the tail ones get your wind ; if, indeed, the deer have 
been pressed forward for a long distance, and are at all 
fatigued, it would not be prudent to do so at any rate, as 
in that case the fattest and heaviest harts always come 
lumbering behind. 

When you discover deer with the glass at a considerable 


distance, you may often approach the desired points 
without the necessity of being concealed by inequalities of 
ground. At what particular distance they will see you, 
must depend upon the state of the atmosphere and the 
nature of the ground you are traversing. If the point is 
dubious, you should always select the dark heather and bog 
to walk upon, and avoid the green sward, where you will 
be more easily descried. Be careful to expose as small a 
front as possible, walking rank and file, each file covering 
the leading one. Sometimes it happens that there is a 
small space only to be passed, in which you will evidently 
be visible ; and in this case it is very difficult to elude the 
vigilance of the sentinels of the moor. The best way is to 
watch your opportunity when all are browsing, and then 
dart forward rapidly with your bodies bent across this dan- 
gerous point, one behind the other, as before described. I 
have often done this successfully ; but it is a ticklish busi- 
ness, and will never succeed when you are near the quarry. 

In all cases of approach, when it is necessary to advance 
in a stooping position, or to crawl, you had better keep a 
-constant eye upon the men in the rear, for, believe me, no 
man is implicitly to be trusted ; one will most unconscion- 
ably put his head up because, forsooth, his back aches 
insupportably ; another likes to have a peep at the deer ; a 
third (and he is the most unpardonable of all) does not like 
to have the burn water enter the bosom of his shirt, which 
is very inconsiderate, as nothing tends to keep a man more 
•cool and comfortable than a well-applied streamlet of this 
description. So, look back constantly to the rear, that every 
gilly may do his duty, and observe that no man has a right 
to see the deer in approaching to get a quiet shot, except 
the stalker. In fact, after a certain distance is gained, no 
one but he and his Achates, who holds the spare rifles, 
should come forward at all. 

The most perfect shots and celebrated sportsmen never 
succeed in killing deer without practice; indeed, at first, 
they are quite sure to miss the fairest running shots. This 
arises, I think, from their firing at distances to which they 
have been wholly unaccustomed, and is no reflection upon 
their skill. It is seldom that you fire at a less distance than 


a hundred yards, and this is as near as I would wish to get. 
The usual range will be between this and two hundred 
yards, beyond which, as a general rule, I never think it 
prudent to fire, lest I should hit the wrong animal — though 
deer may be killed at a much greater distance. 

Now the sportsman who has been accustomed to shot 
guns, is apt to fire with the same sort of aim that he takes 
at a grouse or any other common game ; thus, he invariably 
fires behind the quarry ; for he does not consider that the 
ball, having three, four, or perhaps five times the distance to 
travel that his shot has, will not arrive at its destination 
nearly so soon ; consequently, in a cross shot, he must keep 
his rifle more in advance. The exact degree (as he well 
knows) will depend upon the pace and remoteness of the 

Deer go much faster than they appear to do, and their 
pace is not uniform like the flying of a bird ; but they pitch 
in running, and this pitch must be calculated upon. 

Firing at a target is a very necessary practice in the 
first instance, partly to gain steadiness and confidence, but 
principally to ascertain the shooting of your rifles at all 
distances. You can make no use of a change of elevation 
in your sights when deer are running ; the best way, there- 
fore, is to have one sight alone slightly elevated, the less the 
better, and to make the variation depend upon your aim. 
Having once become a fair shot at the target, I would 
advise no one to continue the practice. It is apt to make 
one slow and indecisive. One step often brings you into 
sight of the deer, consequently one spring makes them 
vanish from it, so that you must frequently take snap shots. 
Indeed, it is quite wonderful (as any experienced person 
can bear witness) how suddenly and unexpectedly they 
disappear, either by sinking under a hill, or running amongst 
the deep channels of a moss, or by a hundred means of 
concealment that the rugged nature of the ground aflfords 

In firing down hill you must be very careful to keep 
your face low down to the sight, which sportsmen do not 
pay sufiicient attention to ; and think, therefore, that the 
ball mounts, which is a great mistake. When your head is 


too high, the line of vision does not follow the line of the 
barrel, but crosses it, and has a downward tendency, whilst 
the barrel perseveres in a more horizontal direction : and 
this is the doctrine of elevated sights. 

You will often have to stop suddenly, and fire in the 
midst of a sharp run ; or when you are dead blown ; stand 
as steadily as you can, and be at once collected ; practice 
alone can give you this power ; and it will give it, for I 
myself was as sure at these sort of shots as at any other, 
provided the deer were running. I found it more difficult 
to take a quiet shot while lying on my stomach in the 

Sometimes the wind is so tempestuous that you have no 
power over the direction of your rifle. There are no means 
to counteract this, and you had better go home ; but if it be 
not too violent, you can kneel on one knee, and get a rest 
by supporting your left elbow on the other. 

Take care that the ramrods to your rifles be large and 
strong; they will otherwise be broken in the hurry of 
loading. I recommend you, moreover, to make one of your 
hill-men carry a very long and stout one in his hand, having 
a mark made in it at the length of your barrel, that you 
may ascertain the exact load. I used no other when this 
was at hand. 

As for the sport itself, that no one can have a proper 
perception of till he is chief in command, and able to stalk 
the deer himself; and this he cannot do without long 
practice, close observation, and a thorough knowledge of 
the ground and habits of the animal. As an instance of 
this, one of the best shots in a rifle regiment was appointed 
some years ago to the office of forester in the Ben-Ormin 
Forest, in Sutherland ; but being a stranger to the country, 
devoid of assistance, and without the means of good instruc- 
tion in the craft, he was only able to kill one hart during 
two years of apprenticeship, and at length resigned his 
situation in despair. Novices, therefore, have necessarily a 
deer-stalker allotted to them from the forest, who very 
properly keeps the devoted rifleman in due subjection ; he 
will not permit him to show a hair of his head above the 
heather on certain ticklish occasions, and the miserable 


youth is always totally unconscious of what is going on ; he 
creeps and meanders through the black and miry channels 
of a bog, quite ignorant of the dire necessity for such a 
pastime; lies down to hand like a pointer, and runs till he 
is as breathless as an immerged oyster diver, he knows not 
why or wherefore. Thus the wretched felicity-hunter 
follows as best he may — 

"O'er rocks, caves, fens, bogs, dens, and shades of death, 
A universe of death." 

One while his leg is wedged in amongst tenacious stony 
fragments, and at another he comes suddenly upon a deep 
chasm that fills his soul with unaffected apprehension. 
Meanwhile the deer-stalker goes on at a persevering killing 
pace, saying, " This way, this way, sir ;" and never looking 
behind him to ascertain whether his patient is in his good 
ground or not ; his words die away amongst the winds, and 
never reach mortal ear. Then, behold, when the deer come 
suddenly in view, he tells the staggering and breathless^ 
sportsman to shoot, always running forward himself, and 
placing his proper body (to say nothing of his flowing kilt) 
precisely in a mathematical straight line between the rifle 
and the harts, which he expects you to kill. Pleasant this 
to you ; and, if in the excitement of the moment you obey 
his command, awkward enough for him ! In getting a 
quiet shot, things may possibly be managed better, as to 
one part of the transaction ; for if your adjutant will place 
himself between you and the deer (as right certainly he 
will), you may pull him back by the heel; or if you be not 
sufficiently powerful to make a good drag of him, you may 
admonish him in a friendly way, by a gentle insinuation of 
your gun-picker into the calf of his leg. You are not 
permitted to speak ; and what else can you do ? 

You must by no means conclude, however, that your 
attendant means you anything but the most cordial kind- 
ness, — his zeal and fidelity in favour of those whom he has 
charge of is his great object; he means to take care of you 
as if you were his only son, — the remaining prop of his 
family. Anxious to give you every possible chance, he 
creeps, runs, and wades, — unmindful only that he is a son 


of the mountains, whilst you, perhaps, were born in the 
Lincolnshire fens, — that his is the speed of the roe, and 
yours the pace of a frog ; thus, whilst you are in such an 
exhausted state as to require the kindest and most un- 
remitting attentions of the humane society, he is perfectly 
convinced that you are enjoying the highest degree of human 
felicity, unbroken in wind, and undecayed in strength. 

In this dilemma what is to be done ? I agree with you, 
that it is a thousand pities so fine a youth should perish 
prematurely ; still I cannot allow you to speak of your 
distress ; though that, indeed, you could not conveniently 
do, for want of breath, and if you could, you would only 
frighten the deer, without bettering your own condition. 

You are at your last gasp, that is evident : perhaps, then, 
you had better do as the fat knight did, when the hot and 
termagant Scot was about to pay him " Scot and lot too," 
namely, to fall prostrate, and feign to be extinct, leaving 
Donald to speak a dirge over you in his most harmonious 

" Death has not slain so fat a deer to-day." 

Now, after all this, perhaps you will tell me that I have 
undervalued your powers. I dare say I have ; there is not, 
indeed, the least doubt of it. To speak fairly, I think our 
young sportsmen from the south (I mean the most active of 
them) are fully as quick, and perhaps more so, than a High- 
lander, for a short distance ; but when it comes to a trial of 
wind and endurance, your well-built, sinewy native will 
generally be found to be the best man. 

In times of yore, however, we Sassenachs have produced 
huntsmen able and skilful in killinsf the stao-. Not to 
mention the feats of Robin Hood and Little John, or the 
other unlicensed deer slayers " of merrie Sherwood," we are 
told that, " In the reign of Queen Elizabeth, John Selwyn, 
under-keeper at the park at Oatlands, in Surrey, was 
extremely famous for his strength, agility, and skill in 
horsemanship ; specimens of which he exhibited before the 
Queen at a grand stag hunt at that park ; where, attending, 
as was the duty of his office, he, in the heat of the chase, 
suddenly leaped from his horse upon the back of the stag 
(both running at the same time at their utmost speed), and 


not only kept his seat gracefully, in spite of every effort of 
the afFriorhted beast, but drawino- his sword, with it o-uided 
him towar<ls the Queen, and coming near her presence, 
plunged it in his throat, so that the animal fell dead at 
her feet. This was thought sufficiently wonderful to be 
chronicled on his monument, which is still to be seen in 
the chancel of the church of Walton upon Thames, in the 
county of Surrey. He is there represented on an engraved 
brass-plate, sitting on the back of a deer at full gallop, 
and at the same time stabbino: him in the neck with his 

This feat of John Selwyn has been paralleled very lately 
by one recorded in another page of this work ; and in still 
earlier days, perhaps, was equalled in jockeyship, by Merlin 
Sylvester, the Wild, as mentioned by GeofFery of Mon- 

" Merlin had fled to the forest in a state of distraction ; 
and looking upon the stars one clear evening, he discovered, 
from his astroloo^ical knowledo:e, that his wife Guendolen 
had resolved upon the next morning to take another 
husband. As he had presaged to her that this would 
happen, and had promised her a nuptial gift (cautioning 
her, however, to keep the bridegroom out of his sight), he 
now resolved to make sjood his word. Accordinolv he col- 
lected all the stages and lesser orame in the neiofhbourhood, 
and having seated himself upon a hart, drove the herd 
before him to the capital of Cumberland, where Guendolen 
resided ; but her lover's curiosity leading him to inspect too 
nearly this extraordinary cavalcade. Merlin's rage was awak- 
ened, and he slew him with the stroke of an antler of the 

Formerly, it seems, the hunters went to the chase armed 
at all points, like the redoubted Alderman Sawbridge. 
Wilson, the historian, records an escape that befel him in 
the hazardous sport, whilst a youth and a 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 

* Antiquarian Repertory. 


chase, and many gentlemen in pursuit, the stagg took So^de ; 
and divers, whereof I was one, alighted, and stood, with 
swordes drawn, to have a cut at him at his coming out of 
the water; the stagg then being wonderfully tierce 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 fall ; 
which gave occasion to some, who did not know mee, to 
speak as if I had falne for fear ; which being told mee, I 
left the stagg, and followed that 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 repent- 
ance it appeared. 

" But this made mee more violent in 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 nere him on horsebacke, hee broke through the 
dogs, and run at mee, and tore my horse's side with his 
homes, close by my thigh. Then I quitted my horse, and 
grew more cunning (for the dogs had set him up again) ; 
stealing behind him, with my sworde I cut his ham-strings, 
and then got upon his back, and cut his throat ; which as I 
was doing the company came in, and blamed my rashness 
for running such a hazard." * 

Rashness ! what rashness ? Here's a fellow for you now ; 
armed with a long sword, and probably in the uniform of 
the city train bands, he sneaks behind a stag at bay with 
fifty hounds fighting at his front, — fifty hounds and an 
historian are fearful odds. He then cuts his ham-strinofs in 
a dastardly manner, and puts an end to the brave animal's 
existence without doubt, by poking the end of his toledo, 
as Master Mathewhas it, into the point of junction between 
the head and neck, precisely in the same manner in which 
the Laps kill their domesticated reindeer. As for his 
cutting the throat, I do not believe a word of it; he was of 
too cold a temper, and did no such thing, depend upon it, — 
he dared not so much as to look at his throat, beinof too 

fearful of his own. 

* Quoted iu the notes to the " Lady of the Lake. 


This, however, was all mighty well for a young historian* 
We blame not his caution. We are circumspect ourselves. 
But we object to his bragging, — most decidedly object to it. 
The whole affair was a paltry one. Thy histories, great 
shade, I never read : — they may live like the great pyramids, 
or go to the tomb of all the Capulets, — it imports me not, 
— but shame on thy bragging of such a deed ; shame on 
thee, I say, " thou chronicler of small beer." 

Not thus was the bearing of the stout Glengarry, when 
he confronted the stag in the rugged pass of Glendulachan. 
Setting at nought the red glance of his eye, and unappalled 
by his tremendous means of defence, in rushed the gallant 
chief full at his front, and buried the sharp skene-dhu in 
his chest. 


A Scotch mist.— Visions of auld lang syne.— Retrospect.— The mist clears.— How to carry 
the spare rifles.— Storm in the mountains.— Sportsmen struck by a thunderbolt. — 
Willie Robertson's lament.— Macintyre's death. — Deer seen on the move. — Vamped- 
up courage. — Making a dash. — Unexpected success. — Dogs fighting. 

Stay, huntsman, stay ; a lurid gloom 

Hangs threatening o'er your head ; 
The rain comes lashing o'er the moor, 

The thunderbolt is sped. 

And mirk and mirker grows the hill, 

And fiercer sweeps the blast : 
The heavens declare His wondrous power 

Who made the mountains fast. 

The night has been dark and stormy, and the morning 
broke over the mountains in flames of red and amber ; thin 
wreaths of mist were ascending from the Vale of Tay, and 
went twisting and flickering up the hill sides ; there were 
no dark frowning clouds in the sky, but a sort of aqueous 
appearance about the light itself, that occasioned certain 
gloomy forebodings in the breast of our sportsman. True 
it is that he passed rapidly over the moor, as he was wont, 
and ate his usual slender meal with tolerable resignation. 
But to say that he enjoyed any thing like elevation of 
spirits would be an absolute perversion of the case, for the 


red flusliin<x of the morning was ominous, and, if I must 
speak the truth, it put him into that state of mind which 
the world have combined to call most abominably disa- 
greeable. As he strode up Ben Derig nothing went right. — 
" Davy, you are always striking the dogs with the spare 
ramrod. How the deuce can you be so awkward ? There 
now, don't pull them along in that manner ; they w^ill be 
weary before they get half way up the mountain. Jamieson, 
I dare say you have left the water-proof rifle-cases at home." 

" No, I have them all with me." 

" Well, I did you wrong to suppose so, for I never knew 
you to forget any thing of consequence." 

" What the de'il maks the maister so crabbed the day ? " 

" Crabbed, aye, and reason eneuch. The mists are rising 
heavier and heavier in the haugh ; and though Ben Derig 
shimmers now, won't he be all mirk afore we can win f orrat 
to our cast ? " 

And scarcely had they gained this destined point, before 
a great volume of mist came sailing over the lower grounds, 
and jostled against the huge shoulder of Ben-y-chait ; then, 
breaking and spreading widely abroad, all around at once 
became dim and dubious. This was the beginning of the 
evil ; but worse remained behind. Cloud after cloud came 
drivinor alonof, till the whole face of nature, mountain, rock, 
and glen, was smothered in the reeking vapour. 

Scarcely may you discern your neighbour sitting upon 
the dripping heather beside you. These clouds of mist are 
sure to last some hours, or may continue the whole morning, 
and finally terminate in a deluge of everlasting rain. Some- 
times, indeed, they would clear away pretty suddenly, but 
more often would they rise gradually. None but those 
who know the joys of deer stalking can tell with what an 
intent gaze the rifleman's eyes were fixed upon the space 
below him. At times the heather grew evidently clearer ; 
then it was distinctly seen, and his hopes began to rise. 
The gleam was brief and delusive : again and again the 
huge volumes came breaking on the hill tops, and all was 
more sullen than ever. As for patient resignation, no 
sportsman knows what it means ; he might possibly have 
read of such a thing, as Magnus Troil had of the nightingale, 


but certainly coald not put faith in its actual existence. 
Once taint him with this sort of philosophy, and you ruin 
him for life ; he is a lost man to all intents and purposes. 
An eager sportsman, I can understand ; the phrase is apt ; 
but who ever heard of a patient sportsman ? Such a fellow 
would take snufF when he ought to take a snap shot ; and 
you would see him pnvganterifh leniter ungues, when he 
should be sweeping down a precipice like an eagle. But of 
such as these discourse we no farther. 

Turn we now to Tortoise. Silent and abstracted he sat 
on the grey stone, and, passing his hand across his brows, 
began to brood over the scenes of his early days ; again he 
roams over the rock-bound coast of Mull, and along the 
desolate shores of lona ; again he chases the roe amongst 
the slaty mountains and rude wildernesses of the Isle of 
Mist ; once more he traverses the heathy Morven, and winds 
his solitary way amidst the rocks and hoarse cataracts of 
Glencoe. Here, in this birth-place of Ossian, rise up before 
him, in his visionary mood, the heroes of other days, the 
hunters of deer ; and thus again he muses on that blood- 
stained pass : — 

Was it thy form, Fingal, that on the cloud 

Strode on as the autumnal gust blew loud, 

Deep'ning amid these rocks and glens forlorn ? 

Was it the echo of thy distant horn ? 

Or heard we his wild harp who drew his breath 

In the dark pass, dark as the frown of death ! 

Where Cona, '■' creeping through the mossy stones. 

Along his gloomy way, forsaken moans. 

As if remembering still the mighty dead. 

Or mourning the fell deed that dyed his current red ? f 

'Twas not, Fingal, the winding of thy horn ; 

'Twas not thy shade wrapt in the mists of morn ; 

'Twas not, oh Ossian ! thy sad minstrelsy, 

Heard o'er the mountains as the dead passed by ; 

But here, as on the scene renown'd we gaze, 

Where strode the awful chiefs of other days. 

Wild fancy wakes. — Sudden before our eyes. 

As to the lonely seer that dreaming lies. 

Pale shadowy maids, and phantom chiefs, arise ; 

* A river in the pass, 
t Massacre by the soldiers of William III. 


Dim floats the sombrous imagery sublime, 
Thy lone harp mingles sad its sweetest chime, 
The aged rocks seem listening to the song, 
On clouds of mist the spectre warriors throng. 
Whilst the low gale sighs, o'er their mossy bed, 
Peace to the shadows of the mighty dead ! '- 

Break off — break off. Gone, long since gone, is that 
beautiful day-spring of life — alas ! how fleeting — when for 
the time we wandered alonof the rude wastes and soundinor 
shores of the stormy Hebrides, looking forward to some 
undefined pleasure, radiant with hope, and glowing with 
enthusiasm; — departed are those day-dreams of the romantic 
fancy ; — and, the illusive veil at length drawn aside, nought 
is now before us but the stern realities of life. 

The everlasting mist still rolls on, and although slightly 
ascending at times, it gives a glimpse of the dripping 
heather, yet another and another volume drives along, each 
pressing on like the waves of a troubled sea. But behold a 
broad white light expanding in the heavens. It is the path 
of the glorious sun wading in the dim expanse, and strug- 
gling with the vapour. Now it fades away, and hope dies 
with it: — dark — dark — dark. Oh that some blast would 
sweep across the moor, and scatter these lazy volumes to 
the four corners of the earth ! 

" But it will clear ! I see it is clearing. Mark how the 
mist is gathering together, and forming in more compact 
masses. By heavens, it rises ! How beautifully it climbs 
the silvery heights of Ben-y-venie ! See how it courses 
before the sun, and how blue it is getting to the leeward ! 

" Shake the dew drops from your flanks, Peter ; we shall 
start in ten minutes." 

" Will you please to tak' a glass of whiskey ?" 

" Will I ? you shall see. Out with your bottle, my good 
fellow : but I do you wrong, for I see it has been constantly 
in your hands. I only hope that it has a better smack with 
it than the mountain dew we have been inhaling for the 
last three hours. There, pass it round with wishes for 

* The author printed these lines, such as they are, many years ago ; but 
circumstances happened which prevented the continuance of the work in 
which they were included, and consequently their circulation. 


success, and do not ' spill the good creature,' for in such a 
morning as this, believe me, it is most salubrious ; manifold 
indeed are its virtues. What trade does it not quicken ? 
It is a good carpenter, a good mason, a good road-maker, 
and a most capital deer-driver, provided it be moderately 
and discreetly dealt with, just as you deal with it, 

" It is all this, sure eneuch ; and I have often thought, 
yer honour, that the gauger who gangs intill the poor body's 
shieling, and taks awa his wee bit still, cannot be right at 
heart. It is a foul raid, and he can be no Christian. As 
for government whiskey, it is poor unhalesome stuff, and I 
wish the gangers may stick to it ; they will be sooner out 
of the way of honest men. But our home-made is a comfort 
the morn and the even, and a warm side to us o'er the 

" Thou art a perfect oracle, Peter ; and of course thou 
sayest true. But it has killed many a tall fellow for all 
that, and taken some of your best hill companions to their 
last home. So now wipe my glass — no, not the whiskey 
glass, man, but the prospect, as you call it : one of DoUond's 
best it is, but you see there's a blear on it. And now let us 
start, for the glens are lit up, the sun rides high, and the 
day is far on. Nay, look not for deer on these heights, 
they will be all low down. It is useless to put off time ; so 
forward, my lads — a good hill-man's step, long, quick, and 
lasting. No better way of walking when time presses. 
And don't be drinking out of every burn. Carry the rifles 
with their muzzles to the rear, and- then you will not drill 
me with one of my own balls, as Sandy Macintosh there 
was near doing the other day." 

*' Not so near, either, for the ball didna pass within half 
a f ut o' ye, and I didna pull the trigger, — so it wasna me 
that was to blame ; I joost took up the gun by the neb, as 
she lay on the ground ahint you, and as I pulled her alang, 
the heather caught the wee bit trigger, and somehow or 
anither, she banged aff ; so I couldna help it." 

" Nothing can be more evident, Sandy ; but only just 
keep the muzzle to the rear in future, and fight like the 
wily Parthian." 


" Why, the same thing chanced to Glengarry, and he said 
naething ava anent it." 

" Very likely, Sandy ; but you see I am of a more talka- 
tive disposition ; hut I must tell you, that in bygone times, 
when a warrior came into a strange country, if he kept the 
point of his spear forward, he was supposed to come as an 
enemy, and was treated as such ; but if he kept the point 
behind him, it was a token of friendship, and they feasted 
him, and gave him venison and whiskey." 

" I ken that was when I was a callan, for I didn't hear 
aething anent it ; but as the neb of the rifle is ahint, and as 
there is nae venison, I must tak' aff the Loch Rannoch with- 
out it." 

" As in duty bound ; very well, Sandy, I find thee apt." 

A considerable space of ground had now been traversed 
without any appearance of deer, in spite of the quick and 
sagacious glance of the hill-man ; the air had turned hot 
and close, and the weather was brewing up dark and heavy. 
Each man raised his eyes to the south and to the east, but 
still in silence. 

" Whish — whish — down — low — I had a gliff of them in 
the sun blink ; — hey, now the shadow is come ower : draw 
ahint a wee bit, we shall spy them again in the clearing ; — 
Ou, what a dunner ! They wunna bide there lang." 

The clouds were now advancing in dark volumes, with 
their hard masses rent, as it were, from top to bottom : the 
thunder travelled sullenly amongst the distant chain of 
mountains ; darker and darker still grew the huge form of 
Ben-y-gloe ; slowly, determined, but still onward came the 
solemn mass ; for a while it seemed to rest behind the 
heights of Cairn-marnoc, whilst the sun cast a last grim 
smile on its heathery braes. 

" I am thinking we shall have a blad of weet." 

" I have a slight suspicion of that myself, Maclaren, so we 
may as well go to Cairn Derig Beg, where the hill is steep, 
and we shall be more in the beild." 

The rising wind came rustling on with a mournful sound ; 
then, as it swelled into a rao^inor blast, down at once fell the 
drenching torrent; and the big drops lashing along the 
moor, gave back a spray like the dashing of a waterfall : 


louder and louder the thunder echoed from hill to hill, till 
it died far away on the rugged peak of Schehalien. 

" I ken this Beg is no fit place for Christian men in the 
fire-flaught. The day is mischancy, and sure as daith some- 
thing will happen, for I heard the lament sung yesterday in 
the gloaming, and well I ken it came from no living 

" Did you see your taishe, Peter." 

" I munna tell what I saw ; but it was that I wudna like 
to see again ; and sin' I hae trod the hills, I never saw sic 
fire as this." 

The storm was indeed awful. Tortoise was sitting under 
the hill, — Peter Fraser was on his left, — Maclaren and 
Jamieson were close to his right and front, and Sandy 
Macintosh was with the hounds at a little distance. 

The thunder clouds were now vertical; no interval 
between the fire and the crash, but both instantaneous, 
like the volleying of heavy ordnance : — another vivid flash, 
and a loud, piercing, and protracted shriek was heard from 
Fraser. The men were driven abroad, as if an engine of 
war had burst amongst them : each had received a violent 
shock — all of them in the legs ; but, providentially, no one 
had sustained a serious injury. When the first surprise 
was over, they began to try their powers of moving. Fraser 
limped like Vulcan ; but after certain moans, and a little 
rubbing of their legs, and skipping .about to try their 
powers, all were soon sensible that they were as sound as 

It was evident, from their yelling, that the dogs had 
received a violent shock also. 

The hurricane now bore away, raging and driving onward 
to the west. The peals were longer, but less loud. Then 
came down the rear storm in one continuous sheet of water, 
and soon the awful voice died away in distant murmurs. 
The weather gleam began faintly to appear behind Ben-y- 
srloe, orrowinof more vivid as the dark mass rolled onward : 
at last, the sun broke forth once more — the winds were at 
rest — and all around looked serene and fair as in the 
morning. You would not have known that this thing had 
been, but for the small pools, or lappies, as they are called. 


which now glittered in the sun, and the streams working 
their way rapidly through the bogs, and coursing down to 
the burns. Those burns which but a short hour ago crept 
lazily through the mossy stones, were now filled with a 
raging, turbid torrent, rolling onwards, irresistible in its 
course, as the lava-streams of a volcano ; — all then is passed, 
and the moor is still again. 

"You're no thinking of the taishe now, Peter." 

" Ou 1 but I'm thinking my legs are all arred, and that 
the fireflaught is in them still, and will be no be out of 
them the nicht ; and do you no ken that yon point from 
which the storm came, is Cairn-na-gour, and that it wa-s 
frae that vera tapmost hill that Willie Robertson, the auld 
forester, him that used to kill the outlying deer by Gaig, 
sung the lament ? It was foreby that Beg he stood, and 
showed John Crerer the taps of a' the high hills from Aber- 
deenshire to Inverness-shire, and ca'd them by name, begin- 
ning at TarfF Forest in Atholl, and passing on to the taps 
of the Argyleshire hills, to those of Lochaber, Inverness, 
and Aberdeenshire, where he said he had spent mony a 
pleasant day. He turned round the tap of the hill, and 
disappeared. Crerer turned round a wee whilie after, and 
spied him nearly a mile aff on his way hame ; he followed 
and owertook him, and found him sorrowful, and the tears 
fallinor from his een. He said, * I shall never see agrain what 
I hae seen the day;' and troth, he never did. He died at 
the great age of ninety-two." 

" Ah, poor fellow, and loath, very loath was he to leave 
his dear hills ; for when Stewart, the ground officer, asked 
him if he thouojht himself in dancjer, he said that he knew 
he was dying, and that he had little chance of ever seeing 
the Duke again in this world ; but he hoped that when his 
Grace was taken away also, he would meet him at heaven's 
gate, and welcome him in. He then began praying; and, 
in the middle of his prayer, asked Stewart, * if it was true 
that his Grace was going to make a road up Glen Mark and 
Glen Dirrie.' Stewart told him 'that was only a joke.' 
William answered, 'that making the road would be no 

" But he enjoyed a long and happy life, and I hope you 


will not sing your coronach at an earlier age. It is a cus- 
tom, I believe, which all the old foresters have observed. 
I was near hearing poor gallant Macintyre sini( his : you 
may remember when he was lying ill at Forest Lodge, and 
I had my quarters there, how, in the midst of his fever, he 
would rave about the deer ; how his spirit was ever on the 
hills, whilst his body was lying on a sick bed ; how wildly 
he talked of Ben-y-gloe, Craig-chrochie, Glen Croinie, and 
all the glens and mountains that had so often echoed to the 
crack of his rifle ; you may bear in mind how near he then 
was to the grave of his fathers. It chanced I did him some 
little common act of kindness, such as no one but an honest- 
hearted Highlander would have thought about for a moment. 
He wished, he said, he might get well, that he might have 
the pleasure of taking me into the deer — how fine he would 
do it ! These were the last words I ever heard from his 
mouth, and surely they were kind ones. Poor fellow ! on 
that day I sent him down to Blair, in an easy carriage, to 
be nearer the doctor : he lived but a short space afterwards. 
Long before this, however, he was aware that his life was 
ebbing; for when Mr. Landseer painted his portrait, he 
looked at it sorrowfully, and said, ' An' if that's like Macin- 
tyre, he's no long for this world.' Too truly did he pro- 
phesy, — peace be with him. 

" And now we will see if we can kill a hart in honour of 
his memory ; and we will pour over the best libations of 
right Loch Rannoch, the fumes whereof will be grateful to 
his shade." 

Peter Fraser (touching his cap), " That would be shamef u' 
waste, yer honour ; Macintyre himsel' aye poured it intill 
his weem, and I'm thinking his ghaist would like to see us 
pit it in the same gait, and not gie it to a dead beastie, who 
will no ken whether it be lowland stuff or richt Loch Ran- 
noch." (Then laying his arm upon Tortoise), " Hist, hist, 
sir ; some fashious body has disturbit the moor. Look to 
yon deer ; they are coming ower from the east by the green 
knowes, and ganging on slowly to Crag Urrard. What shall 
we do ? We maun lie doun on the heather, for we are lockit 
in, and canna win forrat a fut the noo. The banks of the 
Banavie are steep, and the pass to Crag Urrard is narrow ; 


but we are ower far awa' to rin intill them at ony gait ; 
but your honour gangs wi' lang strides doun the brae, and 
je may mak a push for it when they are ower the hill ; but 
ye maun gang your best." 

" They are going slowly, Peter, and I do not alt ogether 
<iespair ; it is a long run, but we have no other chance at 
any rate. The worst of it is, that this long heather, which 
appears so even, is full of large grey stones, that lie hid in 
it on purpose to break honest hillmen's legs, and yours are 
all arred with the fire-flaught, you know, Peter. But we 
will not heed a sprained ankle or broken leg or two in such 
a cause, though the chance be a wild one." 

Tortoise now began to measure with his eye the long 
distance to the pass, which seemed to be about a mile and 
a-half, and then to consider how long the deer would pro- 
bably be in crossing, after they had sunk down the hill out 
of siorht of the stalkers ; it would be a race aofainst time, 
and his calculation was an unfavourable one. 

In the midst of this anxiety they had not observed that 
the weather was again brewing up in the south ; and the 
rain began to fall thick and heavy: they now judged that 
the deer had not been disturbed by any traveller, but were 
slowly shifting their ground to get under the hill to the 
leeward, for they did not look back to the point from which 
they came, or show any jealousy; neither were they in any 
hurry, but walked slowly, stopping occasionally to feed. 
During this tedious time the rain fell heavily, and came 
trickling through the bonnets of the recumbents. Could 
they have been posted in concealment one short half-mile 
nearer, all this they would have borne patiently, as they 
had borne it many a time and oft. But now that the 
chance was almost nothing, — cold, rheumatism, and all the 
ills that flesh is heir to, appeared in sad and hideous array 
before Tortoise's imagination; and, as the cast was now 
nearly ended, the base thought of going homeward, without 
waiting for the chance, came across his mind. 

Hear it not, O noble shade of stout Glengarry ; you who 
would lie abroad in cavern or in moss for nio^hts too^ether, 
the grey stone or the drifted snow your pillow ; you who 
would swim through lakes and flooded rivers, alike heedless 


of the tempest and all the barriers that rugged nature threw 
across your course — hear not, I beseech you, the recreant 
thought that came across our mind. Alas, had not your 
generous spirit departed prematurely ; had not the mournful 
sound of your coronach been borne on the hollow blast 
through your rocky glens and mountains, lamented as you 
were by many a true heart and brave clansman ; oh, had 
you still lived, buoyant in all your strength and national 
spirit, I would have sung lo Pceans to your triumphs ;. 
though, after this confession, candid as it is, your heart 
never would have warmed towards me again, which you 
once told me it did, as being the descendant of a borderer. 

The thought of going to the halls of Blair, however, with 
the deer in view, was transient as it was degenerate ; and,, 
to do ourselves justice, never would have occurred to us for 
a moment, had not the cast been nearly finished, the chance 
almost as nothing, and had not visions of warm fires, hospi- 
tality, and happiness floated invitingly around the old 
towers of the castle, already in view ; in other words, had 
we not at that moment been somewhat of a milksop. A blush 
came over our storm-beaten cheeks ; we vamped up our wet 
courage, and were determined to await the event. 

Long, very long, did the party remain under the wrath 
of Jupiter Pluvius ; for the pasture was good, and the deer 
were in no hurry to quit it ; and, as the men were locked 
in, they could not move till the deer did. At length they 
began to draw on slowly over the hill ; two or three dis- 
appeared, others followed, but more lagged behind. 

" Will they never go ? Yes, yes, they seem to be all 
drawing on ; and now, by Jove, they are all fairly over,, 
(except that jealous hind. Fix your glass steadily upon her, 
Peter, and do not speak till she shall be clearly out of sight 
when we are standing up ; try it first oh your knees, and 
raise yourself slowly." 

Fraser looked awhile, then shut up his glass rapidly, say- 
ing, " Noo's yer time, she is clean awa'." 

Up they sprung, and away they went at high speed,, 
steeped and drenched as they were with the rain, which 
had never ceased for a moment. Sometimes they stuck 
a' most knee deep in old heather, amidst large blocks of 


■stone : these they sprang upon, or twisted their ankles 
between, as it happened ; for such a swinging pace down 
hill precluded their arresting their steps for a moment. 
Soon they come to the great declivity, and look anxiously 
to the opposite steeps of the Banavie. The deer w^ere not 
going up : they had them below then ; but the descent was 
long, and they might still be baulked. Down — down they 
rush behind a ridge of ground, stooping and peeping just 
to the north of the spot where the deer had passed. — " And 
now they cannot escape us ; we must have them, for good 
or for evil." 

The tops of their antlers were just in sight ; and down 
■dropped the men at once, motionless, in the heather. 

The deer now advanced through the burn : Tortoise 
singled out the best harts, keeping his eye steadily upon 
them, and marking their precise course ; but, as yet, moved 
not his rifle. They dashed, and splashed, and shifted places 
in such a manner, that he jude^ed it most prudent to w^ait 
till they were ascending the steep. He then had nearly 
their whole backs presented to his aim. When they were 
in this position, up at once he sprung, and discharged his 
three rifles in succession. 

At the first shot, a magnificent hart sunk down upon his 
hind quarters, staggered, and rolled back lifeless into the 
burn : the ball of the second rifle passed down through the 
shoulders of another splendid fellow ; he fell forward, and 
was instantly dead. The last shot was fired too high, and 
only cracked against a stag's horn, which stunned him for 
a moment, but he soon recovered, and went off' with the rest 
-as well as ever. 

Nothing could surpass the joy of the party at this almost 
unhoped-for success : they canvassed the thing over and 
over again. It was a wonderful distance to come in from ; 
they never ran so well in all their lives ; — in short, they 
were prodigiously fond of themselves, — especially as they 
had anticipated a blank day. They never chose to consider 
that the deer (who had not seen them till the last) were 
going very leisurely. 

" Out now with the whiskey bottle, man, and we will 


make our promised libations in favour of the good old 

Whilst honest Davy was extracting this desideratum 
from his pocket, one of the dogs slipped his collar, and 
seized the throat of the hart, which the men were lifting 
out from the burn, with savage ferocity ; being choked off 
when they gained the banks, he turned his wrath towards 
his friend in the leash, and these two bloodthirsty villains 
flew furiously at each other, and were parted at some risk 
and difficulty. This sort of conflict was, indeed, a very 
common occurrence ; it began with a low growl, then a 
grinning, and exposition of certain white teeth ; then a 
setting up of bristles, a sudden spring, and war to the knife. 

" Now, then, all hands to work, and let us see if the fat 
of this fine fellow is bruised by the fall. No, I am sure it 
is not ; he feels quite firm and sound. Davy, you rogue, 
put the quaigh in your pocket, and gralloch the other deer, 
whilst we attend to this." 

The harts fell near the pine woods of Blair : a smart walk,, 
varied with an occasional run, put in practice when their 
late feat came vividly over them, soon brought them to 
Blair. They no longer heeded the rain and the blast, but 
now rather rejoiced in it. 

*' Forsan et haec olim meminisse juvabit." 


The Forest of Atholl.— Probable number of deer, and their size.— Cumyn's cairn. — Highland 
vengeance. — Fatal accident. — Principal glens. — Glen Tilt. — Marble quarries. —Roe 
deer.— Lakes and lodges. — Merry foresters.— Forest song.— Cuirn-Mamich. — Last 
execution at Blair. —Arrest of a murderer.— Royal feasting and hunting.— Palace in 
the forest, and Highland cheer. — Burning of the palace. — Kilmavonaig beer. — 
Cumyn's death.— Belief in witchcraft.— M. G. Lewis's legendary tale of the Witclv 
of Ben-y-gloe. 

*• There's the dae, the rae, the hart, the hynde, 
And of a' wild beastis great plentie ; 
There's a fair castell of lyme, and stane, 
gif it stands not pleasauntlie !" 

Minstrelsy of the Border. 

The celebrated forest of Atholl comprehends a vast tract of 
moor and mountain, extending, by hillman's computation^ 



from the north-east point joining Aberdeenshire, to the 
south-west point joining Gaig Forest, about forty miles in 
length. The extreme breadth, from the top of Skarsaeh, 
north side of Tarff, to Craig TJrrard, Mr. John Crerer thinks 
cannot be less than 18 miles, but it diminishes in breadth at 
the extremities. It measures 135,451 imperial acres. 

The following table will show how it is divided and 
appropriated : — 

Contents of the Atholl Deer Forest, <^c. 

Imperial Measure. 

Forest Ground. 

Grouse Ground. 



1. Glenfernate - 

2. Felaar and Tarff - 

3. Glentilt, Benygloe, and Loch 

Valligan - - - -, 

4. Eiecblachrie and Benychatt - 

5. Glenbruar - - - -' 

6. Glen-Crombie and Kyrachan 

7. Aldvoulin and Cluns 

8. Dalnacardoch and Wood Sheal 

9. Dalnaspidal and Mealnale- 

trocli - - - 
10. Bohespick and Strathtummel 










Total - 



Total I 

Forest Ground 51,708-521 
\ Grouse Ground 83,742-589 


The part of the forest which is kept for deer-stalking, it 
will be remarked, is 51,708 imperial acres, and is bounded 
chiefly on the west by Craig Urrard and the river Bruar ; 
on the north by the Tarff"; on the east by the Felaar grouse 
ground ; and on the south by the cultivated grounds and 
woods of Blair. Deer, however, are occasionally to be found 
beyond these limits — particularly hinds : in a north wind, 
indeed, an inexpert or rash deer-stalker would send vast 
numbers out of this ground, and if they were still pursued 
and followed with pertinacity, they might be driven into 
other forests and remain there some time. 

The names of the various hill tops are given in the Appendix. 


All this vast tract is reserved exclusively for deer, with 
a slight exception as to Glen Tilt, where sheep are occa- 
sionally permitted to pasture. In 1786, the sheep were 
removed from the north side of Glen Tilt, and from the 
south, or Ben-y-gloe side, about ten years afterwards. In 
the year 1776, when Mr. John Crerer went to Blair, the 
number of deer in all the forest did not probably exceed 
100 ; though some small herds have wandered in it from 
time immemorial. The great increase took place in the 
year above mentioned, when Forest Lodge was built; the 
sheep and cattle were removed, and the hills were thus kept 
free from disturbance. Favoured and protected as they 
now were, the increase became very rapid ; so that of late 
years their numbers were computed at about seven thous- 
and ; but I always thought this an exaggerated statement ; 
for I once saw on the same day all the deer driven down 
from the east, and a second drive also from Glen Crinie ; 
I then fell back north before the deer had crossed Glen 
Tilt, and came to Blair by the western cast and the lower 
grounds ; so that, with the exception of such as happened 
to be on Ben-y-gloe, I must have then seen almost all that 
the forest comprehended, as the wind was full south ; mak- 
ing all allowances, I should estimate the number at between 
five and six thousand. On this day I killed seven fine harts. 
The hinds are of course far more numerous than the harts, 
as none but yeld hinds are killed, except by accident. It 
must be allowed, however, that these accidents happen 
pretty often, and indeed, in almost every deer-drive ; for 
young sportsmen will fire at all hazards when they have 
rifles in their hands — aye, and old ones too, sometimes. 

It is thought that the harts in Atholl Forest are inferior 
in point of size to those in other districts ; and from the 
weight of stags killed elsewhere, an account of which has 
been sent to me, I am forced to come to the same conclu- 
sion. As the pastures are excellent almost everywhere, 
and particularly rich on the north brae of Ben-y-gloe, this 
inferiority in point of size cannot be attributed to the inca- 
pacity of the ground to produce larger animals. It arises, 
I think, from a very obvious cause : Blair being in the high 
road to the north, almost every sportsman that came from 


England profited of its hospitality, and participated in its 
amusements ; thus there never was a day in the season when 
the wind was favourable, in which the deer were not dis- 
turbed to the utmost limit that the forest would admit of. 
Some of the best harts were killed off, to the number of 100 
or 130, or perhaps more, in each season ; and many others, 
I imagine (and these the largest), found their position so 
unquiet, that they sought the forests of Gaig and Braemar, 
and deserted that of Atholl, where they were continually 
driven, and kept in a state of perpetual alarm. It is evident 
that no animal could arrive at his proper dimensions under 
such harassing circumstances. 

But many people were deceived as to the actual size of 
the Atholl harts, from the custom of reckoning by Dutch 
weight, whilst others used the imperial. Now as Dutch 
weight is seventeen ounces and a half to the pound, and 
sixteen pounds to the stone, the difference is most material. 
The weight, too, was given not as the deer stood, but after 
he had been gralloched. 

But if the pastures are fine, the ground also is in all 
other respects the most favourable that can be imagined for 
a forest. Mountains of various altitude, open sunny corries, 
deep glens and ravines, holes for solitary harts to hide in, 
and numerous rolling pools, burns also and rivers, and large 
pine woods to shelter them during the inclement season. 

The two highest mountains in the forest are Ben-y-gloe 
and Ben Dairg, or the Bed Mountain. Ben-y-gloe is of vast 
magnitude, and comprehends a little territory within itself, 
stretching its huge limbs far and wide. It is computed to 
be twenty-four Scotch miles in circumference, and it con- 
tains twenty-four corries ; these corries are separated from 
each other by such high ridges, that a person standing in 
one of them could not hear a shot fired in the next. The 
highest point of the mountain is Cairn-na-gowr, or the 
Goat's Hill, which is 3725 feet above the level of the sea. 
On the eastern side of Ben-y-gloe lies Loch Loch, abounding 
in char and trout ; and near it stands Cumyn's Cairn, con- 
cerning which tradition has given us the following story : — 
About the beginning of the thirteenth century the autho- 
rity of the district was divided between the family of 


Cumyn Earl of Badenoch, and M'Intosh of Tirinie. The 
latter had presented Cumyn's lady with a present of twelve 
cows and a bull ; but this substantial donation, so far from 
exciting the gratitude of the chief, only raised his envy and 
cupidity, and he resolved to strip his neighbour of his 
opulence. He surrounded M'Intosh's castle of Tomafour, 
situated about a mile from his own castle of Blair Atholl, 
and in the silence of midnight massacred the whole family. 
Near M'Intosh's seat lived an old man who held a piece of 
land of him, for which he only paid the rent of a bonnet 
yearly ; and he always got his master's bonnet back again. 
This man was the first who entered the castle after the 
murder, and casting his eyes round on the scene of death, 
fortunately discovered an infant sleeping in its cradle. He 
carried away the child to its nearest relative, Campbell of 
Achnabreck, in Argyleshire, and there the boy was nur- 
tured, unconscious of the melancholy story of his parents. 
It was judged prudent to conceal his birth for some time, 
as the Cumyns were a powerful race, whom it was perilous 
to offend. The boy grew, and became an excellent bowman; 
his aged conductor used to go occasionally to see him, and 
perceiving his dexterity in hitting the mark, said one day, 
* The grey breast of the man who killed your father is 
broader than that target.' This led to a recital of the 
whole transaction. Even the young laird burned for re- 
venge ; and he succeeded in obtaining a select band of clans- 
men to share in his feelings. They went to Cumyn's castle, 
and assailed him with a shower of arrows. His followers were 
scattered, and the guilty chief fled to Loch Rannoch, Glen 
Firnat, and thence to Glen Tilt, hotly pursued by his much 
injured adversary. At length, as he raised his hand to 
wipe the sweat from his forehead, he was struck with an 
arrow, and fell by the side of a small lake at the foot of 
Ben-y-gloe, where a cairn was raised to perpetuate his crime 
and its punishment. 

The above story is yet current in the country, and the 
remains of M'Intosh's castle may still be seen. There is a 
rock in the Tilt called M'Intosh's Chair, where he held his 
court, his people standing round him ; happily he could only 
do so when the water was very low, as he hung a man 


every time. It is still a bye-word in the country that " It 
is not every day M'Intosh can hold his court." 

A fatal accident happened at Craigantsuidh, near Poll 
Tarf, about sixty or seventy years ago ; and here follow the 
particulars, as I have received them : — 

Alexander Macgregor, a resident in Glen Tilt, was 
travelling with two companions on the face of Craigant- 
suidh, which is very rugged and precipitous. It was at 
that time covered with snow, and sheets of ice were found 
in various places, which frequently conducted to the ledge 
of a precipice. In an evil hour Macgregor, unconscious of 
the danger, placed his foot on one of these perilous spots, 
which conveyed his body over a deep precipice, and his sovil 
to eternity. 

His two companions took his corpse into a shepherd's 
hut, where they proposed leaving it that night, until they 
procured assistance. 

The one said to the other, " Will you go to Felaar for 
assistance, or remain all night with the body ?" He replied 
he would go to Felaar for assistance. The Camerons were 
there at this time in the capacity of foresters. He was 
scarcely gone, ere the man, who remained with the body, 
was pelted with stones and turf, and other missiles, till he 
was provoked to go out and see from what direction they 
were thrown. On his going out they ceased ; but the 
moment he re-entered, they began again with such increased 
violence that he would have been stoned to death had he 
not left the house. 

The country people attributed this attack to the omission 
of leaving the door of the hut open to give a free passage to 
the departing spirit. People will form their own con- 
clusions on this and similar stories. I mention them as 
evidence of the superstitious feeling that still pervades some 
secluded spots in the north. 

In the year 1804, one Duncan Robinson had a narrow 
escape from the fall of an avalanche on Ben-y-gloe, but 
(more fortunate than Macgregor) he saw the impending 
mass of snow tottering above him, and threw himself under 
a rock that was providentially by his side ; the vast volume 
passed over him, and his life was thus spared ; but his dog 


The principal glens in that part of the forest, which is 
.set apart for deer, are the celebrated Glen Tilt, Glen 
Croinie,* Glen Mark, Glen Dirie, and Glen Bruar, — all 
bearing the names of the rivers that run through them ; 
and all which rivers (save the Tilt) run from north to south 
nearly in a parallel direction. 

The Dirie falls into the Mark ; the Mark rushes into 
the Tilt ; and the waters of the Bruar lose themselves in 
those of the Garry. The Garry itself may also be con- 
.sidered as within the precincts of the forest. Towards the 
north is the Tartf, which runs nearly from west to east 
with a bearing towards the south ; and it falls into the 
Tilt at the head of the glen. The Croinie also falls into the 
.same river. There is likewise a lesser stream, called " Auld 
Banavie," on the western side of the forest, which runs 
beneath Craig Urrard ; the latter part of its course is full of 
wild and picturesque character : it is swallowed up in the 
waters of the Garry. 

Salmon come up the Tilt in full waters, and are taken 
with the fly ; and all the other rivers are so full of small 
trout, that any one who pleases may catch as many dozens 
in a day as he can conveniently carry. These streams work 
their way in solitude through dreary mosses, and come 
winding down the glens sometimes in comparative tran- 
quillity, and at others bursting and rooting up every thing 
about them; the mighty force with which they descend 
may be read in the vast rocks and fragments of wreck 
which they heap up as monuments of their power. 

Supplied by such numerous forces, the Tilt becomes 
powerful in its infancy. Born in rugged regions, it cleaves 
its way, at the base of impending mountains and rocky 
precipices, in a dark, deep, and narrow trench. Arrived 
at the green pastures of Ben-y-gloe, its bed begins to 
expand, and the waters pass down in a freer course ; still 
however they come racing and flashing along with over- 
whelming violence. 

A little lower its wrath is tempered with all the orna- 
ment that art and nature can bestow. First of all a few 
straggling trees deck its margin ; then groups of birch 

♦This is usually pronounced Glen Criiiie. 


stand airy and light, displaying their glossy stems upon 
the knolls, or shelving down the sides of the great moun- 
tain, vivid as it here is with luxuriant pasture. The woods 
now skirt the braes in larger masses, winding on the hill 
sides and conforming* themselves to the varied undulations 
of the surface. They press closely on the river where the 
valley is contracted, and their branches wave over it, and 
shed the sear leaf in the stream. Some of the masses are 
dense ; others admit the sunbeam, striking on the scarlet 
berries of the mountain ash, and bringing out the rich 
autumnal tint of the brachen which grows beneath them. 
All soon uniting in mass, gather into larch and pine forest, 
and at lenofth mino^le with the woods of Blair. 

The pass itself is barred in by the grim mountains that 
heave their dun backs about it, and send down many a 
torrent from their riven ribs. A good road winds alonor the 
braes, catching and losing the waters as it pierces the 
gloom of the woods, or breaks forth into light and expanse. 
Picturesque bridges are thrown across the river, and every 
thing has been done that consummate judgment could effect 
to temper the wild scene with beauty and convenience ; to 
temper, but not to destroy it ; that indeed, if advisable, 
were almost beyond the power of man. Stern and indomit- 
able as the wrath of Achilles, the Tilt ever holds its mood, 
and comes raging on, wheeling in eddies, rushing in cata- 
racts, or spreading into pools, bearing along with it at 
times huge fragments of rock that form uncouth islands in 
its channel, upon which the stricken deer stands dominant 
at bay ; still ceaseless it races onward, fretting and foaming, 
till at length its mad career is arrested in the less turbulent 
waters of the Garry. 

After the storm this river speaks in a voice of thunder, 
and quells every noise around it ; but when the winds are 
hushed, and the weather gleam streaks the sky from afar, 
and the rain-drops glitter in the sunshine, some sylvan 
sounds may occasionally be heard — the solitary croak of the 
raven's voice as he sits boding on the crags, the distant 
bellow of the hart, or the scream of the eagle falling faintly 
on the ear from the skies above. In a grey day the moun- 
tains around are stern and dark, and there is gloom all up 


the glen ; so that when the eye travels to the small opening 
at the distant gorge, you look out at the bright light of 
heaven as from the mouth of a cavern. 

But it is in the clear day of autumn that this scene is 
most enjoyable, when the air is invigorating, and when the 
sunbeams strike down the summits, and the light falls on 
the glossy stems of the birchen grove, warms the grey rock 
and the greensward, and brings forth all the rich hues of 
<lecaying foliage. Yet even in the broad evidence of a 
meridian sun, whilst the light leaves tremble and sparkle in 
its beams, and countless objects stand prominent, luminous, 
and defined, there are vast masses of dark pines unrevealed 
and impervious to its genial influence, and deep flat shadows 
that leave much in mystery and obscurity. 

The whole of this glen, in a scientific point of view, is 
interestint^ in the hio-hest degree ; to a geolos^ist there is 
none more so throughout Scotland. A quarry has been 
opened above Marble Lodge, which contains immense blocks 
of marble, varying from grass green into one of a yellower 
cast, and intermixed with grey. The best blocks take a 
good polish ; and it surpasses in beauty all analogous subjects 
of British origin. The transportation of such a heavy material 
however is not easy, as the Tay is not navigable above Perth. 

There is also a beautiful yellow marble to be obtained, 
which is mottled with white ; as likewise a coarse sort of 
white marble polluted with grey streaks. 

In the forest there are four mineral springs : I am not 
aware that they have been analysed, but many an incau- 
tious hill-man can attest their efficacy. One of them issues 
at the side of Loch Mark, one at Dualdan, north from Felaar 
House, and two at the top of the burn, at Inverslanie. The 
two last are named Duke James's Wells. 

There are a great many roe deer in the forest, which feed 
chiefly in the woods, or on the moor immediately adjoining 
them, but are never seen far out on the hills. They do not 
unite in herds, but live in separate families. In favourable 
seasons, about one roe out of five or six will produce 
two fawns.* As a singular proof of their attachment to 

* Various writers make the proportion of twins much greater, but this is 
Mr. John Crerer's calculation. 

ROE DEER. 151 

their young, I here transcribe an occurrence that has 
been obligingly sent me by my eminent friend, Sir David 

"Near Belleville, in Inverness-shire, there is a finely 
wooded range of rocks, containing Borlam's* Cave ; the 
haunt of the last Highland cateran, who was proprietor of 
Belleville. In cutting a path to this cave, one of the party 
of Highland labourers, whom I took with me for that pur- 
pose, asked me if I had seen the spaning (weaning) tree of 
the roe deer, and pointed out one close by us, which, but for 
this notification, would have fallen under the axe. This 
tree was a small birch one, that stood nearly in the middle 
of a regular oval ring, formed and trodden down with the 
feet of the roe deer, who run round and round the tree, 
followed by their young, in order to amuse them at the 
time when they are weaned. My informant assured me 
that he had seen the deer engaged in this sport, and I have 
myself seen and shown to others the footmarks of the old 
and young deer in different parts of the ring round the 
birch tree ; at one end of the ring there was a small oval, 
giving the whole the appearance of the figure 00 . 

These beautiful animals, however, who for the most part 
lead such a tranquil and domestic life, are animated with 
fury like the red deer during the season of rutting. In the 
summer of 1820, two roebucks were discovered in a deep 
hollow, one above the other, most firmly united in the 
following singular manner : — The horns of the uppermost 
one were twisted in the skin behind the shoulders of the 
one beneath, and those of the latter were twisted in a 
similar manner in the shoulders of the buck above him. 
Both were found dead in this dreadful position. 

There are seven lakes in the forest — Loch Tilt, Loch 
Mark, Loch Garry, Loch Hone, Loch Dhu, Loch Maligan, 
and Loch Loch ; the last abounds in char, and on its banks 
stands Cumyn s Cairn. 

* Tradition says, that, whilst this ruthless villain was in the act of bury- 
ing a man whom he had robbed and murdered, he was discovered by a 
clansman, who rebuked him. Afraid of legal retribution, he struck the 
intruder down with his spade, jammed him at once into the earth, and 
buried both bodies in the same grave. 


There are two hunting lodo^es in Glen Tilt — Forest 
Lodge, and Marble Lodge. The latter is a mere station ; 
the former was built in 1776, and has lately been much 
enlarged. It is constructed without affectation of orna- 
ment, and consists of two tenements united by a stone 
screen surmounted by stag's horns, and in which there is 
an archway for carriages to pass. One of these tenements 
serves for the lord of the forest and his friends, and the 
other for his retinue. The foresters and gillies, however, 
are so numerous, that I have often wondered by what 
means so many human beings could be packed together in 
so close a space. So it is, however : and instead of com- 
plaining of inconvenience, every man is as happy as if he 
were sole possessor of the great bed at Ware. As a proof 
of this good feeling, and the general spirit that pervades 
the hill-men, I transcribe a song made by Alexander, an 
old and faithful servant of the late Duke of Atholl, who 
lived with him eighteen years, and now lies buried in the 
cathedral at Dunkeld. This composition was sung every 
night at Forest Lodge w^hen Maddy was there ; and, 
whatever may be thought of the poetry, is as good an 
evidence of the sort of thing going on as I can possibly 
give. Here it is in its pure doggerel state. I have not 
attempted to spoil its character by the alteration of a single 
word : — 


0, Campbell*, man, I muckle dtead 

That we shall have a tramp ; 
The Commander in Chief f so soon a stear, 

I fear we must flit our camp. 

But if to Felaar we do march off, 

As I muckle dread we may ; 
Some Athole brose before we go 

Campbell and I shall ha'e. 

» Campbell was cook in the Atholl family upwards of sixty years ; but 
for several years before he died acted as hill cook only. 

t Lord Cathcart was commander of the forces in Scotland at that time. 


The journey's long and rugged too, 

Some waters for to cross ; 
Some bills to climb — but worst of all — 

Is trougbing tbrough tbe moss. 

When at Felaar we do arrive, 

How pleasing 'tis to see 
At nigbt tbe harts and birds come home. 

In dozens twa or three. 

John Crerer he spies out the harts. 
My Lord Duke does shoot them ; 

Curly ■''- he does bring them home, 
And Campbell he does cook them. 

Tho' Campbell carries nothing there 

But just a pan and brander. 
He can soon cook a dinner rare 

For the Duke or Alexander. 

And when our kites is a' weel cramm'd 

Wi' ilka thing that's rare, 
Then to the toddy we sit doun 

Each man to drink his share. 

Lang life to you Campbell, 

To stear about the toddy ; 
Of a' the friends I ever ken't 

Ye are a dainty body. 

Next to bed we do prepare 

The best way we are able ; 
There is twenty lies upon the floor, 

And Maddy on the table. 

From wa' to wa', all in a row 

Like herring on a plate ; 
The man that durst our camp attack 

My faith he'll no be blate. 

Such a regiment of Highland men, 
The Duke and Lord Cathcart'; 

I am convinced they would defy 
The devil and Buonaparte. 

* John Forbes, christened "Curly" by the Duke, from his hair being 
much curled, attended his Grace upwards of twenty years to the hill with 
two horses, to bring home the dead deer to Blair. This man knew every 
part of the forest, and could be directed to find the dead deer, though lying 
twenty miles distant from Blair. He died about the year 1825, aged 
about seventy. 



Ben Dairg, or Derig, as it is usually pronounced, the 
mountain next in consequence to Ben-y-gloe, is 3,550 feet 
in height. It lies about ten miles north from Blair ; its 
summit is covered with immense blocks of gneiss and 
granite of a reddish colour, from whence it derives its 
name of the Red Mountain. This chaos of huge fragments 
is the favourite haunt of the ptarmigan and white hare, 
though the perilous den of the fox and wild cat is there 
also, and the eagle preys around it. 

The south side of this mountain forms a vast crescent, 
the horns lying west and east. 

I must not omit to mention more particularly another 
mountain which lies between Glen Mark and Glen Croinie : 
it is called Cuirn-Marnich ; cuirn is the plural of cairn, and 
marnich of maronach — " the cairns of the Braemar people." 
These cairns are sixteen in number, and were raised by the 
AthoU men to commemorate a victory they obtained over 
the Braemar people, whom they here overtook and slew to 
the number of sixteen, as they were returning home with 
plunder from their country. Tradition says little about 
this foray, which, indeed, was but upon a small scale. It is a 
boast of the men of Atholl, that they never were beaten by 
their neighbours in open fight, such having always proved 
fatal to their adversaries ; so that the only loss they ever 
suffered was by stealth and stratagem. 

This they are still proud of. Alexander Gon, from Blair, 
was once in Braemar, when the company he was with began 
to banter the Atholl men for lack of courage. Up he started 
on his legs, and striking the table with his clenched knuckles, 
exclaimed, in the stern spirit of a clansman, " Remember, 
lads, who have the Cuirn-Marnich." This effectually silenced 
the banterers. 

Turning from such lawless proceedings, I will now give 
an account of the last public judicial execution that took 
place at Blair. 

About the beginning of the sixteenth century, the Earl of 
Atholl had two foresters named Stewart and Macintosh ; 
the former resided at Auchgoul, and the latter at Dalnachie, 
both in Glen Tilt. Macintosh had also a bothy at Coirre- 
renich on Ben-y-gloe, where he occasionally slept. 


One day after shooting together, they resolved to sleep 
at this bothy. They had only a gilly, or servant, with them 
belonging to Macintosh. The two foresters slept in one bed, 
and the gilly in another. Whilst Macintosh slept, Stewart 
stabbed him with his skiandubh; and, going to the gilly's bed, 
stabbed him also, and put him on Macintosh, that it might 
be supposed one had killed the other. He left them both 
for dead, and made the best of his way home. 

Soon after his departure, the gilly began to recover a 
little from the wound he had received, and contrived to 
-crawl on his hands and knees to Dalnachie, which he reached 
next morning, and gave information of the murder of his 
master. When Stewart heard that the gilly had escaped 
with life, and that the murder was discovered, he fled to 
Lord Reay's country in Sutherland, which had the privilege 
in those days of protecting criminals from justice. 

In the meantime the Earl of Atholl, beins: informed of 
what had had taken place, was determined to bring Stewart 
to justice, and sent a man named Macadie, who knew Stewart 
well, dressed as a beggar, to discover if he was still in 
Sutherland. He soon returned with intelligence of Stewart's 
being there, and the Earl sent a strong party with Macadie 
(still disguised as a beggar) with instructions to bring back 
the murderer dead or alive. 

On the arrival of the party at Lord Reay's country, hear- 
ing that Stewart was to attend a wedding on a certain day, 
they agreed to surround the house where the ceremony was 
to take place, pretty late at night. Macadie was to enter 
and drink Stewart's health ; and this was to be the sig- 
nal that the person they sought for was within. This 
being settled, Macadie entered, and drank Stewart's health, 
who, finding he was discovered, bolted out of the house, 
and was immediately surrounded and secured by the party 
stationed without, who took him to Logierait, where he was 
confined some time, and finally condemned to be hung and 
gibbeted. The sentence was carried into execution at Blair ; 
and this man was the last person who was hung there. 

The motive for this foul act did not transpire ; but it 
was supposed that it was perpetrated for the sake of in- 
volving the murderer with the sort of horrid consequence 


that was attached in those days to the most daring delin- 
quents. An obelisk was placed on the spot where the 
execution took place, by Duke James, in 1735 ; and the 
mound is still called " The Hangman's Mount." 

The forest of Atholl seems to have been celebrated for 
the sports it afforded for many ages. 

King Malcolm, called Cean-Mohr (great head), who reigned 
in Scotland from 1056 to 1093, frequently hunted in it ; 
and many places in the forest are named after him, such as 
the King's Cairn, etc. 

The Lord of Atholl Forest has the privilege of hunting 
over the Lude property ; and the proprietor of the latter is 
obliged to keep his ground clear of cattle and sheep for the 
space of three weeks previous to a grand hunt, if desired 
to do so. This right was kept up for a considerable period^ 
but has not been exercised of late years. 

In Piscottie there is a description of an entertainment 
given to royalty by the third Earl of Atholl, which, how- 
ever well known, is of so splendid and unusual a character, 
and so directly to the purpose, that I cannot, I think, omit 
it with propriety. 

"In 1529, King James the Fifth passed to the Highlands 
to hunt in Athole, and took with him his mother Margaret, 
Queen of Scotland, and an ambassador of the pope, who 
was in Scotland for the time. The Earl of Athole hearing 
of the king's coming, made great provision for him in all 
things pertaining to a prince ; that he was well served and 
eased with all things necessary to his estate, as he had been 
in his own palace of Edinburgh. For I heard say this 
noble earl gart make a curious palace to the king, to his 
mother, and to the ambassador, where they were so honour- 
ably eased and lodged, as they had been in England, France, 
Italy, or Spain, concerning the time, and equivalent for 
their hunting and pastime ; which was builded in the midst 
of a fair meadow, a fair palace of green timber, wind (1) 
with green birks (2) that were green both under and above, 
which was fashioned in four quarters, and in every quarter 

1 " Wind," Wound, or bound. 

2 " Birks," Birch trees. 


.and nutre thereof a great round, as it had been a block- 
house which was lofted and geisted the space of three 
house-heights (3) ; the floors laid with green scharets (4) and 
spreats (5), medwarts (6) and flowers, that no man knew 
whereon he zeid (7) but as he had been in a garden. Fur- 
ther, there were two great rounds in ilk side of the gate, 
and a great portcullies of tree falling down with the manner 
of a barrace (8), with a draw-bridge, and a great stank of 
water of sixteen feet deep, and thirty feet of breadth : and 
a,lso the palace within was hung with fine tapestry, and 
arrasses of silk, and lighted with fine glass windows in all 
airths (9) ; that this palace was as pleasantly decored with 
all necessaries pertaining to a prince, as it had been in his 
own palace-royal at home. Further, this earl gart make 
such provision for the king, and his mother, and the ambas- 
sador, that they had all manner of meats, drinks, and deli- 
cates, that were to be gotten at that time in all Scotland, 
either in burgh or land ; that is to say, all kind of drink, 
as ale, beer, wine, both white and claret, malvasy (10), 
muskadel, hippocras, and aquavitse. Further, there was of 
meats, wheat bread, mainbread, and gingerbread; with 
fleshes, beef, mutton, lamb, veal, venison, goose, grice (11), 
€apon, coney, cran, swan, partridge, plover, duck, drake, 
brisset cock (12), and pawnies (13), black cock, muirfowl, 
and capercailies. And also the stanks that were round 
about the palace were full of all delicate fish, as salmonds, 
trouts, pearches, pikes, eels, and all other kinds of delicate 
fish that could be gotten in fresh water, and all ready for 
the banquet; syne were there proper stewards, cunning 
baxters (14), excellent cooks and potingars (15), with con- 

3 "Three house-height," Three storeys high. 

4 *' Scharets," Green turfs. 

5 "Spreats," Eushes. 

6 " Medwarts," Meadow-sweet. 

7 "Zeid," Sat. 

8 " Barrace," Barrier, an outwork at the gate of a castle. 

9 "Airths," Quarter of the heaven; point of the compass. 

10 " Malvasy," Malmsey wine. 

11 " Grice, or Gyrce," A young wild boar. 

12 " Brisset Cock," Turkey. 

13 " Pawnies," Peacock. 

14 " Baxters," Bakers. 

15 "Potingars," Cooks who prepared herbs. 


fections and drugs for their desert. And the halls and 
chambers were prepared with costly bedding, vessels, and 
napry, according for a king ; so that he wanted none of his 
orders more than he had been at home in his own palace. 
The king remained in this wilderness at the hunting the 
space of three days and three nights, and his company, as I 
have shown. I heard men say it cost the Earl of Athole 
every day in expenses a thousand pounds. 

" The ambassador of the pope, seeing this great banquet 
and triumph which was made in a wilderness where there 
was no town near by twenty miles, thought it a great 
marvel that such a thing could be in Scotland, considering 
how bleak and barren it was thought by other countries,, 
and that there should be such honesty and policy in it, and 
especially in the Highland where there was but wood and 
wilderness. But most of all, this ambassador marvelled to 
see when the king departed, and all his men took their 
leave, the Highlandmen set all this fair place on a fire, that 
the king and the ambassador might see it. 

" Then the ambassador said to the king, ' I marvel, sir, 
that you should thole (IG) yon fair place to be burnt that 
your Grace hath been so well lodged in!' Then the king 
answered the ambassador, and said, ' It is the use of our 
Highlandmen, though they be never so well lodged, to burn 
their lodgings when they depart.' This being done, the 
king returned to Dunkeld that night. I heard say that 
the king, at that time in the bounds of Athole and Strath- 
erne, slew thirty score of harts and hynd, w^th other small 
beasts, as roe and roebuck, wolf and fox, and wild cats." 

In the description of the Badenoch country I have 
recounted a story of Walter Gumming, who was killed by 
a fall from his horse the day previous to an infamous, 
exhibition which he meditated. The story is given pre- 
cisely according to the belief of that district. I have since 
received more particulars of that event from the Atholl 
country, and from a source wholly unconnected with the 
previous one. The Badenoch authority says that Gumming 
was absent on some business in Atholl. 

16 " Thole," To bear with, not to oppose. 


The tradition is that he way attempting to make a road 
between Blair, Atholl, and Badenoch. And the cause of 
his undertaking so enterprising a work is thus given, 
though probably his real reason was of a predatory- 
nature : — 

Gumming and his wife (who were from Buthven, or 
Buairm, in Badenoch) were passing through Atholl, and on 
their arrival at Kilmavonaig, they went to a public-house 
to take some refreshment. On their entrance they called 
for some beer, which was then the chief drink of the High- 
lands ; and being exceedingly pleased with it, were anxious 
to know where the several ingredients could be procured. 
The landlord, who, like Boniface, was loud in commendation 
of his own beer, told them he received the malt from Perth, 
and the water from Aldnehearlain (a small rivulet which 
runs through Kilmavonaig), which is the best known for 

Gumming then resolved in his own mind in what manner 
he miofht sret the same inorredients from Badenoch over the 
pathless hills which lie between the two countries ; as there 
was no road, it seemed tedious, nay, almost impossible, to 
procure a ready and continued supply. Upon surveying 
the ground, he thought it might be practicable to make a 
road, and he resolved upon the arduous undertaking. He 
drew a line from Kilmavonaig through the woods of Graig 
Urrard, crossed the Bruar by Riechlachrie, and so on almost 
in a straight line till it reached Gaig in Badenoch. He 
hired men, and made a road as far as Gum-na-feur, where 
the work was terminated in the following singular 
manner : — 

There was a man at Ard Ghaith at Moulin named 
Mac Gonnoig, whose wife was a witch, and she resolved, 
with the assistance of another witch who lived in Groc 
Barrodh, a small village near her, to put a stop to Gumming's 
Road by their infernal magic ; they metamorphosed them- 
selves into the form of eagles ; for those who are in familiar 
alliance with Glootie obtain from him the power of trans- 
formation. The Atholl tradition says, "it is not known 
whether Gumming ever injured them, or whether they bore 
him any malice or ill will." But the Badenoch history 


declares that these eagles were the transformed mothers of 
the girls whom he had commanded to reap stark naked on 
the following day. 

Whatever they were, however, they took their flight till 
they came to Cumming's workmen, and by some charm 
they dispersed the men, and put the horses and oxen to 
flight, till they were driven over a great precipice, which 
was then called Cum-na-feur, or the Cart's Precipice. 

Gumming, affrighted at the catastrophe, took to flight 
and galloped off, pursued by the two winged witches ; he 
did not, however, acquit himself as well as Tarn O'Shanter, 
for his body was torn from his horse by the eagles, the 
flesh stripped off, and nothing remained in the stirrup but 
one of his legs. The horse stopped for a space on the banks 
of the Tarfi*; and the spot where he paused is still called 
Lechois (one foot). 

Thus terminated, according to tradition, the extravagant 
speculation with which Gumming was to supply Badenoch 
with Kilmavonaig beer ; the length he proceeded with his 
work may be easily discerned at the present day ; no person 
doubts that there was a road. 

The belief in witches, fairies, and other supernatural 
powers has very much decreased of late years in Scotland ; 
but it is a great mistake to consider it as wholly extirpated. 
Those who come in contact with passing strangers will 
naturally be reluctant to confess any superstition, for fear 
of being derided ; but such as live in the country, and have 
free intercourse with the cottagers, well know with what 
deep reverence they relate such stories as these. They 
have descended from their ancestors, and they regard them 
as part of their creed. In a family in Atholl where there 
is now an old man residing, many of the long winter nights 
are spent in telling stories about ghosts, fairies, witches, 
warlocks, etc., which are solemnly listened to, and most 
religiously believed ; and should any one of the company 
attempt to discredit these stories, or to try to account for 
them on natural principles, the hoary sage would treat such 
incredulity with ridicule, and regard the person as a most 
infatuated sceptic. 

There is great talk of a witch that still haunts Ben-y- 


gloe. She is represented as of a very mischievous and 
malevolent disposition, driving cattle into morasses, where 
they perish, and riding the forest horses by night, till 
covered with mire and sweat, they drop down from fatigue 
and exhaustion. She has the power of taking the shape of 
an eagle, raven, hind, or any other animal that may suit 
her purpose. She destroys bridges, and allures people to 
the margin of the flood, by exhibiting a semblance of 
floating treasures, which they lose their lives in grasping at. 
This very formidable person, in conjunction with the 
hunt given to James the Fifth, gave rise to the following 
legendary tale, which was given me in manuscript at Blair. 
It was written by the late M. G. Lewis during his visit 
there, and I am not aware that it has ever appeared in 
print : — 


I call thee ! I charm thee ! wing hither thy way ! 
By the laws below that the fiends obey ! 
By the groans which shall rise at the Judgment- day, 
I call thee ! I charm thee ! wing hither thy way ! 

She heard him on her mount of stone, 
Where on snakes alive she was feeding alone ; 
And straight her limbs she anointed all 
With basilisk's blood and viper's gall. 

But seeing, before away she sped 
That her snakes half-eaten, were not yet dead, 
She crush'd their heads with fiendish spite. 
But had not the mercy to kill them quite. 

Oh ! then she mounted the back of the blast. 

And sail'd o'er woods and waters fast ; 

She stopped on a rock awhile to rest. 

And she throttled the young in an eagle's nest. 

And now again her flight she takes 

O'er rocks and muirs — o'er hills and lakes : 

She saw below her the harvest swell, 

And she groan'd to see that it promised so well. 

She stops for a moment to curse the grain. 
Then away on the wind she hurries amain ; 
Now she flies high — now she flies low — 
And she lights on the summit of huge Ben-y-gloe. 


Thither had call'd her a woful wight 
With many a spell and mystic rite ; 
But when he saw the witch appear, 
That woful wight he quiver'd with fear. 

" Woful wight, now tell me true. 
What hast thou summon'd me hither to do ? 
Woful wight, thy answer make ; 
I must be gone ere morning break." 

*' My son was a robber so stout and so bold — 
Lo, where he Ues pale, bloody, and cold ; — 
Revenge ! rev.enge I ask of thee ; 
Oh ! grant that Lord Atholl as cold may be. 

" Atholl's earl, whose cup I bear. 
Slew this morn my son so fair ; 
Though a robber he was, he was dear to me, — 
So revenge I revenge I ask of thee." 

" Now, woful wight, my counsel take, 
And Atholl's blood thy wrath shall slake ; 
To work him harm three spells I know. 
But more than three I may not show. 

" These herbs of maddening power must feed 
Ere dawn of day his favourite steed ; 
Then soon as Lord Atholl shall touch the reins, 
Shall the steed dash out his master's brams. 

" And if any one hears and dares betray 
My secret ere St. Andrew's Day, 
I'll drink his blood and crack each bone, 
And turn the strings of his heart to stone. 

" This cup did fiends at midnight make 
By the heat of the burning brimstone lake ; 
In this Lord Atholl's liquor pour. 
And if once he drinks, he'll never drink more. 

" And if any one hears and dares betray 
My secret ere St. Andrew's Day, 
I'll drink his blood and crack each bone. 
And turn the strings of his heart to stone. 

" And should your foe these spells evade, 
Then be the third and last essay'd ; 
Nor doubt I'll glut your vengeful spite 
With blood, ere ends to-morrow night. 




" For I'll hide you in Lord Atlioll's room, 
And wrap your form in magic gloom, 
Till near his bed you can softly creep, 
When your dirk may stab him while buried in sleep. 

" And if any one hears and dares betray 
My secret ere St. Andrew's Day, 
I'll drink his blood and crack each bone. 
And turn the strings of his heart to stone." 

Sighing with sorrow, and burning with rage, 

All this had heard Lord AthoU's page ; 

Who, curious, had follow'd the woful wight 

When he sought the mountain's snow-crowned height. 

Home he sped with heavy cheer, 
" Oh how shall I save my master dear ? 
Oh how shall I manage the truth to tell. 
Yet avoid myself the beldame's spell ? " 

Thus mourned the page till broke the mom. 
But he sprang from bed when he heard the horn, 
The jolly horn which, loud and clear. 
Summoned King Jamie to chase the deer. 

For now two days with Lord Atholl had been 
King Jamie the Fifth, and his mother the Queen ; 
With lords and with ladies, a goodly show, 
And all were lodged on Ben-y-gloe. 

And there to welcome guests so great, 
Lord Atholl had built a palace of state, 
And all without 'twas covered with green, 
And all within with silken sheen. 

And there were all fashions of exquisite fare, 
And tanks full of delicate fish were there ; 
And the King and his nobles had all as good 
As had they been still at proud Holyrood. 

Each day that King Jamie had passed on his grounds 
Had cost Lord Atholl a thousand pounds, 
Yet ordered Lord Atholl (his splendour was such), 
That the third should cost full thrice as much. 

The Earl he rose with the morning light. 
And soon he met with the woful wight. 
Who proffered a draught of cordial power, 
To cheer his heart ere he left his bower. 


Sweet Willie the page was at hand — the bowl 
He knew, and terror seized his soul ; 
For he saw the Earl accept the gift, 
And soon to his Hps the cordial Uft. 

But ere they touched the goblet's side. 
Sweet Willie the page, "Hold! hold!" he cried, 
"And before you drink, to the Virgin pray 
That her blessing may fall on your sport to-day." 

The Earl then he sank on his bended knee, 
" Mother of God, now hear," prayed he, 
But scarce the words his lips could pass, 
When in fragments flew the mystic glass. 

Startled Lord Atholl in fear and surprise, 

On the woful wight he fixed his eyes, 

But his doubts to clear he may not stay. 

For the monarch was mounted, and called him away. 

" Sweet Willie, run, sweet Willie, speed. 
And bid them bring my favourite steed." 
His mouth all foam, his eyes all flame, 
Snorting and prancing the black steed came. 

But ere on his back Lord Atholl could bound. 
He heard sweet Willie's bowstring sound ; 
Whizzing flew the trusty dart. 
Nor stopped ere it pierced the black steed's heart. 

Lord Atholl, his face was black with rage. 
He struck to the earth sweet Willie the page ; 
" Now pardon, dear master," did Willie exclaim, 
** I shot at an eagle, and erred in my aim." 

Again Lord Atholl smote him sore. 

And bade him see his face no more. 

Till the Queen-mother prayed him his wrath to assuage. 

And forced him to pardon sweet Willie the page. 

Gay was the chase — all hearts were light. 

Save Willie's, who dreaded the coming of night ; 

Gay was the feast, and gay each guest. 

Save Willie, whose soul sad thoughts oppress'd. 

When he heard his master laugh with glee. 
Ah ! little his danger he knows, thought he ; 
When he saw him wine in his goblet pour, 
He wept lest his lord should never drink more. 


But hark ! what horn so loud doth blow 

That it shakes the green palace of high Ben-y-gloe ; 

At the gate now stops a herald his steed, 

And towards the King's table he passes with speed. 

*' To horse, King Jamie ! to horse and away ! 
For the English are coming in martial array ; 
Your lands they waste, your people they slay, 
Then to horse. King Jamie, to horse and away ! " 

Up started King Jamie, and summoned his court — 
*' Thou hast shown me. Earl, right princely sport ; 
But what thou hast heard the herald tell, 
Commands me this moment to bid thee farewell. 

*' But thou. Lord Atholl, till morn must wait, 
Then marshal your vassals and follow me straight. 
Mount ! mount ! my nobles, for I'll away. 
Though dark be the night, nor wait for day." 

King Jamie is gone through mist and gloom, 
And the Earl now seeks that fatal room, 
Where the Witch, with blood to glut his spite. 
Already had hid the woful wight. 

But when on the lock was the Earl's hand laid, 
" Alas ! that the King," sweet Willie thus said, 
" Exposed to the dangers of darkness should go, 
But if I were Lord Atholl it should not be so ; 

" For rather of these towers I'd make 
A bonfire for my Sovereign's sake. 
Which, spreading wide its friendly light, 
Should guide him safe through the dangers of night." 

Lord Atholl, his head was hot with wine. 
He heard and adopted sweet Willie's design. 
He bade his vassals the palace forsake, 
And each in his hand a firebrand take. 

And he burnt the palace so stately and fair, 

With hangings so rich and pictures so rare. 

And with vessels of silver and vessels of gold, 

And swift through the chambers the bright flames rolled. 

But hark ! who shrieks in pain and fright ? 

The fire has seized on the woful wight. 

Who close in his master's room did he, 

And whom none had warned from the flames to fly. 


And lo ! while his life the miscreant ends, 
On a column of smoke what fiend ascends ? 
'T is the Witch, who in curses vents her ire. 
As scorch'd she flies from the raging fire. 

All view'd the Witch in strange surprise, 
But what she was could none devise, 
Till St. Andrew's Day had come and flown. 
Then made sweet Willie the secret known. 

And he told, how thrice he had managed to save 
His Lord, when he stood on the brink of the Grave ; 
And he told how his Lord had paid him with blows 
For snatching his life from deadly foes. 

Lord AthoU, he gave sweet Willie his hand, 
And he gave him gold, and he gave him land, 
And he gave him a wife, who was fit to be queen, 
'T was his lovely daughter Gallantine. 

Now if lords and if ladies are curious to know 
What became of the Witch when she left Ben-y-gloe, 
'T is right to inform them, for fear of mistakes, 
That home she went, and finish'd her snakes. 


Deer-drive to Glen Tilt.— Anticipated sport.— The deer-stalker's rhymes. — The start from 
Bruar Lodge.— Combat of stag's.— Cautious exploring.— Stalking the great Braemar 
hart. — The shot and bay,— Preparation for driving the deer.— Dahiacardoc chamois. 
— A French sportsman.— The ambuscade, skirmish, and slaughter.— Shot at the 
black deer. — The party assembled.— The last hart brought to bay.— The bay broken. 
— The death-shot.— A carpet knight.— Condoling with a victim.— The Count's adven- 
ture. — Chase and capture of a poacher. — A quiet shot. — Granting a favour. — Ter- 
mination of the day's sjK)rt. 

" Ye shall be set at such a tryst, 
That hart and hind shall come to your f yst. " 

Squyer oflowe Degre. 

The lord of the forest had now determined upon having a 
grand deer-drive to Glen Tilt, and Lightfoot was invited 
to make one of the party ; thus, in a short time, this for- 
tunate sportsman had an opportunity of seeing every 
variety and description of this interesting chase. That the 
show of deer might be as ample as possible, Tortoise had 


instructions to commence his cast at the remote parts of the 
forest, kill what he could, and get forward as many deer as 
he was able : he therefore dispatched all his men to Bruar 
Lodge over night, that they might be fresh and ready for 
the morrow's sport ; a time was fixed for his meeting the 
foresters from Glen Tilt on Sroin-a-cro, when he and his 
men were to take the command of the right wing of the 

This animating sport was always enjoyed by anticipa- 
tion ; and you might easily read in the happy countenances 
of the guests at Blair, that something highly pleasurable 
and exciting was about to take place. When John Crerer 
and the foresters were summoned to the corridor over night 
curiosity rose to the highest pitch. Something positively 
awful was going on — was Glen Croinie to be driven, 
and would any one be suffered to go with the drivers ? 
This great mystery was seldom solved over night ; nor 
could it be so with certainty, as a change of wind must 
necessarily cause a change of operations. But on the 
destined morning each sportsman had clear and distinct 
instructions, and his proper station allotted to him ; some 
of the old ones, however, who were knowing as to the 
currents of the air, and acquainted with the passes, were 
apt to finesse a little, and ingratiate themselves into the 
most favourable positions. These gentlemen might be seen, 
at the dawn of day, walking about the castle, and noting 
the precise direction of the clouds. 

Modern hunting-parties in Glen Tilt, although not on so 
extensive a scale as those in days of yore, when nobles 
went forth with all their retinue, and the whole scene had 
as much the appearance of a military display as of a hunting 
excursion, were yet of a liberal, exciting, and lordly char- 
acter. Parties of hill-men were sent forth, at a stated time, 
to form a semicircular line on the mountains, and press the 
deer down the crags into Glen Tilt, which they usually 
crossed, and then went forward, reeking and steaming, up 
the heights of Ben-y-gioe. 

There were several stations in the glen, in which the 
various sportsmen were concealed, and from these no one 
was permitted to stir till the deer had fairly passed them. 


These drives took place only when the wind was favourable, 
and, at such a time it was pretty easy to calculate at what 
hour the deer would come in sight. 

It was not unusual for the drivers to collect a herd of 
five or six hundred head ; and, occasionally, when they 
came down into the glen, broke into parcels, and turned 
back upon the drivers, the scene was splendid and ani- 
mated, and the firing became very general ; after the shots, 
dogs were turned loose, for the chance of bringing some of 
the fat sluggards to bay, and an excellent one it was. 

Sportsmen, whose discretion and forbearance could be 
relied upon, were occasionally sent with the drivers, one at 
each wing, but it was their duty to consult the general 
sport, and not to get forward and fire, unless deer broke 
fairly out, lest they should turn the whole herd. 

A scene so full of novel interest caused many a fluttering 
heart on the previous day, and many a feverish dream at 
night. Visions of deer, perhaps, came and vanished amidst 
broken slumbers; then the restless sleeper was lost and 
bewildered amongst mountains and torrents ; then came a 
sudden start, as if falling from a precipice ; lastly, and, oh, 
worst of all ! an attempt to pull the trigger at a monstrous 
hart, without being able to effect the explosion of the rifle. 

At length the shades of night pass away, and the morning 
breaks forth fair and beautiful. 


By the Hon. T. H. Liddell. 

Awake and be stirring, — the daylight's appearing, 
The wind's in the south, and the mountains are clearing ; 
A thousand wild deer in the forest are feeding, 
And many a hart before night shall lie bleeding. 

Make ready both rifles — the old and the new — 

And sharpen the edge of the rusted skene-dhu ! 

Let your telescopes gleam in the rising sun ; 

"We'll have need of them all ere the day's work be done. 

The laddie was off before light to Glen Tilt, 
And Fascally's laird has just tied on his kilt ; 
And Peter and Charhe are waiting below 
The cloud-mantled summits of huge Ben-y-gloe. 


Then spur on your ponies, and haste to the slaughter, 
Where the Tilt and the Tarff mix their eddying water ; 
The ravens have spied us, and croak as they wheel 
O'er the antler'd heads of their destined meal. 

Now brace up your sinews, give play to your lungs, 
Keep open your eyes, and keep silent your tongues ; 
And follow with cautious and stealthy tread 
The forester's footsteps wherever they lead. 

Here pause we a moment, while yonder slope 
He surveys with the balanced telescope : 
By heavens ! he sees them — just under the hill 
The pride of the forest He browsing and still. 

" Yon moss must be past ere we gain our shot, — 
'T is full five hundred yards to the fatal spot." 
So near has he reckon'd — that, as we crawl by, 
Lo ! the points of their horns on the line of the sky. 

We have travers'd the flat, and we lurk behind 
A rock, to recover our nerve and our wind : — 
Hist ! the calves are belling ; and, snuffing the air, 
Two jealous old hinds to the front repair. 

See the herd is alarm'd, and o'er the height 
The leading hinds have advanc'd into sight : 
" Hold 1 hold your hand till the antlers appear. 
For the heaviest harts are still in the rear." 

Crack, crack ! go the rifles, — for either shot 
A noble hart, bleeding, sinks on the spot ; 
The third ball has miss'd, — but the hindmost stag 
Was struck by the fourth as he topped the crag. 

" Uncouple the lurchers ! " — right onward they fly, 
With out-stretching limb, and with fire-flashing eye : 
On the track of his blood they are winging their way ; 
They gain on his traces, — he stands at bay ! 

Magnificent creature ! lo reach thee I strain 
Through forest and glen, over mountain and plain ; 
Yet, now thou art fallen, thy fate I deplore. 
And lament that the reign of thy greatness is o'er. 

Where now is that courage, late bounding so high, 
That acuteness of scent, and that brilliance of eye ; 
That fleetness of foot, which, out-speeding the wind, 
Has so often left death and destruction behind. 


Thine heart's blood is streaming, thy vigour gone by, 
Thy fleet foot is palsied, and glazed is thine eye : — 
The last hard convulsion of death has come o'er thee, — 
Magnificent creature ! who would not deplore thee ? 

Coir-na-Minghie has rung to the rifle's first crack, 
And the heights of Cairn-chlamain shall echo it back ; 
Glen Croinie's wild caverns the yelling shall hear 
Of the blood-hound that traces the fugitive deer. 

By the gods, 't is a gallant beginning : — Hurra ! 
Diana has smiled on the hunters to-day ! 
In the sports of the morning come, goddess, and share, 
And Bacchus shall welcome thee homeward to Blair. 

The first who started for the sport were Tortoise and his 
men, of whom Jamieson was the chief — a fine, straight, 
sinewy, well-favoured man he was, with as good wind, as 
cool judgment, and as quick an eye for deer as any man on 
the hills. They had slept, as has been noted, at Bruar 
Lodge, about nine miles north of Blair, that they might 
begin at the outskirts of the preserved part of the forest. 
As soon as the morning mist was dispersed, they were 
breathing the fresh air on the summit of Ben Dairg, sitting 
upon the red stones, and prying with their glasses into 
every part of the vast forest that lay expanded before 
them, — more especially and minutely examining those 
places that were under the wind, the warm corries, and the 
best pastures. They had hitherto seen nothing but hinds ; 
but, as such gear only spoil sport, they took care to give 
them their wind, and send them out north, that they might 
at once get rid of them. 

It was now far on towards the rutting season ; and, as 
the party advanced, and looked over the Elrich, they saw a 
parcel of hinds with a master hart, who had made this very 
Turkish collection for his sole individual gratification ; 
these were to be kept, as they were obtained, by the strong 
antler. Like the Athenians in their prosperity, these mar- 
tial fellows acknowledged no law but that of force. 

Whilst the hart was walking proudly with the hinds, a 
hoarse roar comes over the ridge of the hill ; it is the 
menace of w^ar — nearer and louder it falls upon the ear; 
and, lo ! the angry rival appears on the sky-line. He halts 


upon a projecting crag, swelling, jutting out his neck, and 
drawing himself up to his full proportions. Having now 
screwed up his courage to the sticking-place, he turns aside, 
and winds down the moss, bellowing and tossing abroad 
the heather with his antlers, his wrath seeming to increase 
as he moves onwards ; his dauntless adversary sends back a 
loud defiance, and rushes forth to meet him in fair combat. 
The hinds wheel their ranks, and stand, with curious gaze 
and erect ears, to witness the joust, — and now the com- 
batants meet brow to brow, butting and goring each other 
with great fury, till at length their antlers are fairly locked 
together. After some violent struggles they extricate 
themselves ; and, being well matched, and quite exhausted, 
both sink upon their knees, and rest a space in that posture, 
still antler to antler. Somewhat revived by this brief cess- 
ation, they set to again, till the intruder, being at length 
forced backwards to the edge of a precipice, and feeling 
himself worsted, turns quickly aside, and fairly takes to 
flight, but runs in circles round the hinds, as reluctant to 
leave them. The victor follows close at his heels, goring 
him in the haunches ; ever as he is touched he starts aside, 
till at length, beaten and jaded, he fairly gives up the con- 
test, and gallops away, still hotly pursued. 

Whilst this chase after the fugitive was continuing, in 
<jomes another hart from the opposite quarter ; but no sooner 
had the victor heard his bellowing, than he returned to 
secure his hinds, and quickly drove this gay gentleman 
away, who took to his heels incontinently, being a beast of 
no mark or likelihood.''' 

After this amusing spectacle was over, these deer, being 
of no service to the drive, were suffered to go into Glen 

The party, now having ascended to the summit of Coir- 
na-miseach, crept forward cautiously behind a ridge of 
ground, and got a view of that immense basin called the 
Culreach. Instantly, as they looked below, there was a 
whisper of caution ; they crawled back on their hands and 

* This law of detur fortiori" is an admirable provision of nature for keep- 
ing the stock from degenerating. 


knees, sunk the hill again, and posted themselves on safe 
ground. They had seen the deer, which were scattered up 
and down the hill sides, some grazing, others basking in 
the morning sunbeam, fat and lazy, whilst the jealous hinds^ 
were so disposed as to prevent any sudden inroad upon 
their position. Some of them kept to the wind, and others 
were continually looking towards those points from which 
they could not profit by it. 

Jamieson now went back to take a minute inspection of 
the whole herd. He soon returned with an expression of 
eager excitement, — " There are several good harts," he said, 
" in the herd on the eastern face of the hill ; but," added 
he, " there is a small parcel below us, and, as sure as deid, 
the great Braemar hart is among them — there is him and a 
small hart and five hinds a' thegither, and I'm thinking 
that he is so high up on the face o' the hill, that he may be 
pit over, and ye may hae a chance at him at last." 

" Capital news, Thomas, and a glorious thing it will be 
if it should turn out so, for he is a hart of a thousand ; but 
are you sure it is the muckle deer after all ? The Braemar 
hart, who has foiled us twice, has a very sleek body, with 
high horns, not widely spread, and only eight points. You 
should know him well — are you sure it is him ?" 

" I could pick him out from a' the harts in the forest, 
and gie evidence against him, for he is a wary beast, and 
we have had sair work wi' him, he has led us mony a mile !" 
Dispositions were now made for getting the herd forward 
into Glen Croinie ; this was easily done, though it took up 
some time, for it was necessary to place a man towards the 
east, and another to the north, the sportsmen remaining on 
the western hill. These men soon arrived at their stations, 
and came forward at the concerted moment, working well 
together. So distant were they, that they could scarcely 
be discerned through the telescope. The herd soon took 
the alarm, and began to put themselves in motion. They 
drew closer together, the hinds gazed around them, and the 
harts, rising up from their lair, tossed up their antlers, and 
stood erect in their full proportion. As the hill-men ad- 
vanced slowly and cautiously, the deer closed, and went 
forward leisurely ; they then made a halt on. the face of the 


hill, and formed into a beautiful group ; but, as the drivers 
persevered, they drew out into a long string, and went at 
^n easy pace up the steep towards Glen Croinie ; arrived at 
the summit, they mended their pace, and each deer galloped 
over the scalp of the hill as if all the rifles of Atholl were 
at his heels, so that, in a few moments more, the whole 
herd were fairly in the glen. 

There never had been the slightest doubt of the success 
of this operation : all Tortoise's anxiety leaned towards the 
small parcel which contained the great Braemar deer. When 
the general alarm took place these stood and gazed like the 
rest, and advanced some way as if to join them ; till at 
length, when they made off", the proud leader stopped for a 
space, tossed up his antlers, and, disdaining to follow the 
servile herd, turned up the western face of the hill where 
Tortoise was lying : as he went forward the rifleman ad- 
vanced also, preserving the wind, and just keeping sight of 
the points of his horns from over the brow of the hill. 

The hill-men, seeing the favourable course he was likely 
to take, did their utmost to make him persevere in it. 
Every thing looked propitious ; but still it was uncertain 
whether he would come out from the hollow at a favour- 
able point of the hill, or go over the easy swell, where it 
would be impossible, from the nature of the ground, to come 
within distance of him ; indeed, he seemed inclined to do 
the latter. What an anxious moment was this for the rifle- 
man ! who can tell what hopes, and what dire apprehen- 
sions shot rapidly across his mind, when he saw the pride of 
the forest almost within his reach ? forward he came, bound- 
ing and pitching up the hill, casting his broad shadow on 
the green-sward, and followed closely by his companions. 
As yet, his course is dubious ; — now he bears more to the 
west, and races along, as it seems, rather in sport than in 
fear ; — by heavens ! he nears the rifleman : — on for your 
life and make your push ! With bent body, but with rapid 
steps. Tortoise ducked down, slipped suddenly back behind 
the eminence, and then went forward at the top of his 
speed. The horns, which he never lost sight of, are seen 
approaching the hill-top — down again crouched the rifle- 
man for a moment, till the course of the deer was decided 


then another swift movement below the hill brought him 
within distance, just as the magniJScent fellow had passed 
the summit, and was descending into the opposite glen. 

Tortoise's breast had been in a tumult, but it was lulled 
in a moment — 

*' Che sue virtuti accolse, 
Tutte in quel punto, ed in guardia al cor le mise." 

He stopped suddenly, like a bolt that had hit the mark ; 
—stood firm — clapped his rifle rapidly to his shoulder, and 
fired just as the hart was disappearing from his view. 

" Habet, — he has it — he has it, Jamieson ; I heard the 
smack of the ball true enough." 

" Hurra, he lags behind ! Now, then, let go Tarfl': quick 
— quick, Sandy ; lose not a moment ; quick, for your life, 
man ; we cannot wait till he falls out : come here, Jamieson ; 
I, and my men must join the general drive, or the deer will 
break out ; so take you one of the rifles, and finish that fine 
fellow as he goes to bay in Glen Mark : you will have no 
time to return, so do not attempt to come back up Sroin-a- 
cro or Cairn-Marnoch ; you will be more useful in the glen 
by keeping the deer in on that side. You can come in at 
Auk-mark-moor. Away with you." 

And away went the stout hill-man, bounding over moss 
and hillock, till in a few minutes he sunk down from the 

" Hark ! I hear the baying of the hound : now it dies 
away : — Do you hear it now, Sandy ?" 

" No, I did not ; I heard naething but the corbie." 

" Look with your glass, then, whilst I load." 

" Hey ! what a sight ; I never kent the like o' it afore." 

" Why, what do you see, man ?" 

" "Why, sure the deer is chasing Tarfl" all ow'r the moss,, 
and Tarfl* is rinnin awa' joost ahead o' him ; — I never kent 
the like. Now the hart stops — now Tarfl* is at him again : 
ah, take care, Tarfl"! — Now the deer has beaten him afl", and 
is rinnin after him again." 

" I see it all myself, Sandy, with the glass ; and I see, 
too, that one dog, be he what he may, can never manage 
that deer ; so let go Derig, for he has heard the bay, and 

THE BAY. 175 

will soon be up with him." And so, indeed, he was : glen 
and mountain now resounded with the raging of the deep- 
mouthed hounds, till at length the vexed quarry broke 
down the river Mark, and then, turning aside and skirting 
the Brae, stood before a huge mass of rock that was 
anchored on the mountain side : thus posted, he boldly 
faced his antagonists. Thrice did the ferocious Derig 
spring aloft in the air, and fly ravenously at his throat, and 
thrice was he driven back with unmitigated fury. Madden- 
ing with rage, the fine animal rushed forward, raking and 
stabbing with his antlers, and gave chase, in his turn, to 
his enemies. It was a novel sight to see the noble beast 
act on the offensive. The war, when it ceased on the side 
of the stag, was again renewed by the hounds, who, although 
wounded and bleeding, ever returned stoutly to the charge. 
In vain was the rifle at hand, for the dogs were ever 
springing at the throat, in the way of the ball. And now, 
see, the bay is again broken, and away they go, right up 
the steeps of Ben-y-venie. 

" Here we can tarry no longer, for the Duke's men are 
approaching ; but it matters not, for Jamieson will inevit- 
ably bring that noble fellow down, though he will give him 
some trouble, and perhaps occasion the death of my good 

" Well, Peter Fraser, here you are at last : when are we 
to start the deer ?" 

" At one o'clock exactly ; and a' the men are round 
towards the east, under Charlie Crerer's command : then 
there's George Ritchie the fiddler at Cairn-y-chlamain ; and 
Macpherson will gang doun Glen Croinie. The Duke trusts 
to you and yer men to pit ower the deer from the wast." 

" Well, Peter, this is all as it should be, and the left wincr 
cannot be under better command than that of Charlie 
Crerer ; for, besides being a very clever fellow, he is as 
active as the beasts themselves, and always zealous to do 
his duty : a great regard I have for him, for he was my 
first instructor, and many a pleasant day we have had 
together in bye-gone times. As for the main body of the 
deer breaking on our side, we will so deal with them, that 
they shall not have that crime to answer for ; if a few harts 


alone take such a fancy, my nature is not so cruel as to 
baulk them of their intent, since in that case I shall get a 
shot or two without prejudice to the general sport ; if there- 
fore this should happen, we will conduct ourselves with 
liberality, and suffer them to take their own pleasure with- 
out let or hindrance ; and now, whilst we are waiting here, 
you may as well tell me what sport there has been at 

"I didna hear aething anent the moor-fowl at Dalna- 
spiedel; but I heard that the English gentlemen killed 
^YQ deer at Dalnacardoch." 

" Five deer ! Deer at Dalnacardoch ? How could they 
possibly come into deer in such ground as thafc ? — What 
clever fellows they must be!" 

" And clever chiels they were sure eneuch, for they got 
intill them without fashing themselves much aboot the 
matter ; but the gentlemen, some gait or anither, had not 
studied nature, so that when they brought hame the beasties, 
the guidman at the inn couldna agree wi' them in opinion, 
though he is a very civil man too; for Sandy said that the 
five deer were five goats, whilst the gentlemen said that the 
^YQ goats were fi.YQ deer; but, sure eneuch, they had all 
beards, were wee beasties, and smelt like goats all over." 
" Well, Peter, and how did all this end ? " 
" Why at last, then, they (that 's the deer-stalkers) began 
to think that Sandy was richt, and that the deer were goats; 
so they behaved very handsome, and gave the farmer a 
hantle o' siller for their day's sport, being sorry for the 
mistake they had made : and it's mair the pity they didna 
prove to be deer ; but it's no that easy to turn the like of 
an old goat into a fine hart." 

" Well, Peter, I do not think that the sport was so bad 
after all ; for I believe that the chamois, in chase of which 
the Swiss risk their lives, and are out for days together on 
mountains of eternal ice and snow, is little better than a 
great goat after all." 

" I didna hear of sic a beast mysel ; but I ken, by yer 
honour's account, he is no worth the speering at." 

The moment had now arrived for starting the deer ; and 
the signal was given, that every one might go on in good 


order, and act according to the movements of the quarry. 
Macpherson,who was to go down Glen Croinie,was instructed 
to keep in the rear till the deer were on the eastern face of 
the hill above the glen ; — prudently did he hold back, for 
they were endeavouring to break out on the west : Tortoise 
and his men, however, turned them without difficulty ; and, 
after some hard running and considerable manoeuvring, they 
took precisely the desired direction. 

But the drive, upon the whole, did not proceed with the 
usual alacrity ; there was a sportsman (so called by courtesy) 
upon whose pace the hill-men on the east waited, and it 
was unfortunately a slow one ; he had several shots, which 
were so injudiciously taken, that the success of the general 
sport seemed to be in jeopardy : the deer, I believe, were in 
none at all. 

"Why, now, Peter, what in Heaven's name can that 
apparition be ? Take your glass, and see what like it is." 

" I see the man plain eneuch, for it is nae wraith ; but 1 
canna joost say what like he is, for I never kent the like o' 
him afore ; he's nae Scotchman, and he hasna the tread of 
an English, for he aye gangs forrat on his toes wi' a wee 
bit jerk. Haw, haw, haw, I never saw sic a dress on the 
hills : do tak a glifF o' him through the prospect, yer 

" Ah, I see him, Peter, and I guess he is a Frenchman ; 
but, with all his capering, he is as slow as a soldier marking 
time. Merciful he is, for not a beast has he touched as far 
as I can see. Surely he must be firing with blank cartridge; 
but the deer are going right in spite of him, so I hope he 
enjoys himself ; but, at any rate, if he spoils sport in one 
way, I am sure he shows enough in another. I wonder 
what he thinks he is doinsr ?" 


And now the stately herd began to crown the summits, 
and were soon descried from the glen, hanging on the sky- 
line in long array. Those in the van gaze steadily on all 
sides, — onward move the others in succession, their horns 
and bodies looming large against the sky. Heavens ! what 
a noble sight ; how beautiful, how picturesque ! See how 
they wind down the crags, with slow and measured steps ; 
now hidden, and now reappearing from behind impending 


masses of rock : now the prudent leader halts his forces and 
closes up his files ; those in advance are scrutinising the 
glen, whilst the rear-guard, wary and circumspect, are 
watching the motions of the persevering drivers. As the 
men come forward in a vast semicircle, the herd begin to 
mend their pace, — calves, hinds, and harts, come belling 
along, and wind down the oblique paths of the steep, putting 
in motion innumerable loose stones, that fall clatterinor over 
the crags. 

The glen wore the appearance of utter solitude ; but the 
sportsmen were lying in ambush in various parts of it, 
under the impending banks of the Tilt, behind fragments 
of rock, or in some cleft or position which screened them 
from the gaze of the deer. 

And now how many bosoms were throbbing at this 
splendid vspectacle, and what fitful changes from hope to 
despair agitated individual sportsmen, as the herd ap- 
pr(jached, or deviated from their particular position. 

Beset upon their flanks and upon their rear, and seeing 
no obstruction in the wild forest before them, after long and 
deep misgivings, they take their desperate resolution : down 
they sweep in gallant array, — dash furiously across the 
meadow, and plunge right into the flashing waters of the 
Tilt. Hark hov/ their hoofs clatter on its stony channel I 
Onward they rush, — the moss-stained waters flying around 
them, and are fast gaining the opposite bank. 

Their course being thus decidedly taken, the lurking 
rifle-men spring up at once, like Clan Alpine's warriors, 
and rush forward on all sides. 

Those who were fortunate enough to be near the spot of 
crossing had fair chances ; for though some of the herd 
were cut off" and turned back to the west, yet so long a 
string passed across the glen, that they had time to fire, and 
load, and fire again. 

Many rifle-men came in, breathless, from more distant 
stations; some in time, and others all too late. Several 
shots were fired in distance, and out of distance, with 
various success; and the skirmish for a short space was 
pretty brisk on all sides. The herd, having fairly crossed 
the rocky channel of the Tilt, scampered away at a pro- 


digious rate, and went forward, reeking and steaming, right 
up the face of the great mountain. 

" Quick, quick, uncouple the hirchers." 

The dogs spring from the leash, strive and press for- 
wards ; but are half blown before they come up with them. 
The herd now collect into a dense mass, each deer wedging 
himself into it as he finds he is the particular object of 
attack. Not a single hart fell out; and the hounds at 
length returned, with slinking countenances and drooping 
sterns, — lolling out their tongues, they lie panting on the 

The sport however had been excellent; the Duke of 
AthoU (always the most skilful and successful of the 
party) killed three first-rate harts ; our friend Lightfoofc 
two, decidedly : two more were killed, as your rustic 
grammarian has it, somewhat promiscuously ; and the old 
sportsmen also did considerable execution, selecting their 
harts with great tact. Moreover there were slain three 
hinds, that nobody would own to, and an exceedingly pro- 
mising young fawn, repudiated also by all.* The French 
Count, whom we noticed on the mountains, distinoruished 
himself in his own particular manner : but his high achieve- 
ments well merit a separate history ; and that they shall 

And now let us go back to Tortoise, and see if he was 
idle all this time. No, not so ; for a few harts and hinds 
broke over to the west, and, as the general sport was already 
secured, he used his pleasure with them. He had only two 
rifles, the third having been given to Jamieson to kill the 
deer at bay ; he came well in. to them, and, at the first shot, 
slew a noble hart ; but there was another in the parcel still 
superior, which had been running on the opposite side : as 
the men got forward, the little herd came sweeping round 
over the open ground, towards Clashtyne, describing the 
segment of a circle. 

* It was considered a disgrace, as has been elsewhere intimated, to kill 
hinds and fawns ; a stranger, not aware of this, wrote to thank the late 
Duke of Gordon for a day's deer-shooting in Gawick ; intimating how 
happy his Grace would be to hear of his success, for that he had wounded 
a hind, and killed an exceedingly promising young fawn. 


" Lord ! Lord ! that black deer :* hey, what a deer ! There, 
there, that black deer ! Ou, he is ower far." 

The words were scarcely out of Peter Eraser's mouth, ere 
the shot resounded in the hills. The hart was runnino* 
swiftly, at about one hundred and fifty yards distance, or 
" by 'r Lady," somewhat more, but quite clear, and the ball 
seemed to smack against the centre of his body. 

" Sandy, Sandy, the dogs, the dogs, — quick, quick, man 1 
Lord, will ye never come forrat ? Let go Shuloch. Here, 
Shuloch, Shuloch." 

Away went the gallant old hound, upon his traces. 

" And now he is safe enough ; and we will leave him to 
Jamieson, who will meet with him at bay, as he comes 
down Glen Mark, where he will assuredly go. So leave 
Sandy to gralloch and bleed the other deer; and let us 
keep on down the hill, in case the great herd should be 
turned, and endeavour to come back over Auk-mark moor. 
They went over the ridge, however, in beautiful style, their 
backs all reddening in the sunshine ; and they must, and 
will, cross the glen if every one keeps concealed till the 
right moment. Hark, I hear a shot I Another, and another, 
— ^glorious ! Come along, Peter, skim down the mountain 
like a swallow : surely some of the herd will turn back upon 
us. There, there — Charlie, Crerer is running like an ostrich. 
Ah, Charlie, Charlie, it winna do ; they are fairly past you, 
and you will pass us too, but not without a shot." 

One rifle, in fact, was discharged by Tortoise as they swept 
by, and one more hart lay plunging in the heather. 

" Now, then, let go Percy and Douglas after the others ; 
and we shall send down a deer or two to the Tilt, which 
will make a noble day's sport. 

" Bravo, Percy, bravo! See, he has taken out one hart, 
and Douglas another ; they are sinking the hill, right down 
to the Tilt. Sit down whilst I load, and listen to the bay. 
I hear it sure enough now; it is Percy's bay. How he 
makes the valley ring; I should know his deep tongue 
from a thousand. He must be just above the marble quarry. 
Hark ! that is his death-shot, and from the Duke ; for no 

* Black from rolling in the mire. 


one else would fire at a deer at bay whilst his Grace was in 
the glen. We shall soon know this, for a few minutes will 
bring us within sight." 

And now, as they bounded down the brae, the whole line 
of carriages, gillies, and sportsmen, broke full upon their 
view. That glen, heretofore so still and silent, awoke at 
once into life and animation. A large party had collected 
round Marble Lodge, and made a most picturesque appear- 
ance. Here a successful sportsman came, triumphantly 
galloping upon a mountain pony ; and, far in his rear, 
riding at a dejected pace, loitered some unhappy wight, 
whose balls had been somewhat too busy with the heather. 
The wild gillies, soiled and heated with toil, were running 
to and fro in their blue bonnets and plaided kilts, some 
leading the good deer-hounds in the leash, with panting 
sides and flagging sterns ; others, with fresh dogs, trotting 
lightly along, and looking up the mountain to the right and 
left, with keen gaze and half elevated ears. Nobles and 
kerns were mixed, and talking together with that good 
fellowship and equality, which a common interest in an 
animated pursuit so generally and so happily occasions. Or, 
if there was any ascendancy (always setting aside the Lord 
of the Forest), it was vested in John Crerer ; so true it is, 
that " it is place that lessens and sets off." He was the 
Belarius, to whom the noble sportsmen looked up with 
deference and respect. 

Three stout ponies, with redundant manes and shaggy 
coats, came slowly winding down the glen, each with a 
magnificent deer corded on his back. Tortoise had gone 
rapidly forward, with a fresh dog and a hill-man, in quest 
of Douglas and the deer : faintly he has heard the bay; 
now it peals louder and louder, as he rounds the wooded 

"Now, speed thee, speed thee, Sandy; quick to the 
Duke, and tell him we have a noble hart at bay ; this 
torrent and these clifis he himself cannot gain, but say I 
will break the bay, and get him down to the Tilt, where he 
shall surely die the death. Lose not a moment, for time 
presses. Nay, never go round by the bridge, man, — the 
river, though swollen, is still fordable here, and will not 


wet you above your waist ; plunge through at once. Well 
done, stout Sandy, you bear yourself like a true man." 

" Time, indeed, was waning fast, for it was long since the 
birch in-leaves had trembled and glittered in the sunbeams, 
and the golden splendour, which so lately slept upon the 
mountain-top, had already died away, consigning it to its 
own stern and rugged nature. The air was coming up the 
glen, dank and chill ; hill, brae, wood, and precipice were 
beginning to mingle in one universal melancholy mass. 

The hart had got into the river Mark, just above the 
spot where it comes brawling into the Tilt ; it was one of 
those deep chasms where the sunbeam never enters; in 
most places the rocks dropped steep, smooth, and shelving 
down to the flood. There were huge blocks of granite in the 
channel, and it seemed wonderful how the vexed animal could 
have got into the dark chasm in which he stood. But there 
he was — the torrent at his feet, and the long bony arm of a 
blasted birch stretched over him. Douglas stood baying at 
the point of a rock above, venting his vain wrath, and 
making stoops as if he would plunge down from that " bad 
eminence," but, sensible of his danger, he as often drew 
back; various were the attempts he made to come in at 
some other place, but still he was obliged to return to his 
first position. Tortoise now came up with Croinie ; she 
was a most sagacious animal, and it was her custom to do 
the thing as coolly as possible, always running before the 
deer till she came to a convenient part of the river, when 
she turned in and headed him. This method she took in 
the present instance, and was soon swimming before his 

But the stout animal would probably have remained im- 
moveable in his position till the hound perished with cold 
and fatigue, had he seen no other enemies — indeed, he seemed 
to hold both dogs in thorough contempt ; but when Tortoise 
stood before him, for a moment he raised up his stately 
crest, and waved his broad antlers to the right and left, 
gazing restlessly around him, then plunged at once down 
the torrent, trampled upon the hound, and bounded out far 
below, gaining the open birch-copse that skirted the banks 
of the Tilt. The hounds kept on their course, following 


him through all his windings. Arrived at length at the 
steep banks of the river, with one brave bound he gains the 
centre of the stream ; and there he stands majestic and firm, 
and in ready act to do battle. The hounds dash after him 
as best they may ; fain would they attack him, but in vain 
they stretch their powerless limbs: lightly does the hart 
regard them, as they are swept to and fro by the rapids, and 
can scarely hold their own. But when he finds the taint in 
the air, and discovers sterner foes, he looks forward to the 
free mountains before him, and again, breasting the flood, 
strives every nerve to gain the heights of Ben-y-gloe. But, 
alas ! it may not be, Douglas and Croinie gain fast upon his 
traces ; and, after a rapid wheel, he plunges again into the 
Tilt, and stops not, rests not, but down, down he goes, 
through pool and over cataract, swimming, wading, and 
rushing onward through the divided waters. The dogs, 
close upon him, are borne down at times by the weight of 
the flood, but rise up again to the surface, undaunted and 
eager in the pursuit. 

At length, and almost at the departure of daylight, the 
Duke comes forward with his good rifle ; one shot from that 
unerring hand, an echo dying away through the mountains, 
and see the fleet limbs fall powerless, and the dun carcase 
goes floating down the stream, welling out the life-blood. 
The current bears it onward rapidly, jostling against the 
rocks, and wheeling in the eddies. In dash the kilted 
foresters in gallant style, stemming the flood, and stretching 
forth their arms in vain; their daring was perilous, girt 
round and oppressed as they were with the waters ; but still 
the deer bore past them, always just beyond their reach. 

But who is this coming forward with the ropes and 
grappling-hooks ? Who but the excellent and trusty 
M'Millan,* mounted on his sheltie, " and charming the 
glen with fair feats of horsemanship." Gently now, my 

* John M'Millan entered the Duke of Atholl's service in 1791, as assistant- 
fisherman to Duncan Kennedy. When Duncan died he became the principal 
fisherman. He was a powerful man, and a most valuable and attached 
servant ; but never could acquire skill in the ways of the deer. He rode 
so awkwardly that he seldom mounted a pony without getting a fall. He 
was unfortunately drowned in the Tay, near his own house, in January 7, 
1836, at the age of 71 years. 


feathered Mercury, I pray and beseeech you not to swerve 
so undecidedly to the north and to the south, but resolve 
me at once towards which point of the compass you mean 
to make your summerset; for your pony, mark me, is a 
recusant, and, sooth to say, I never saw any animal less 
solicitous of another, than that beastie is of his rider. There 
now, — hope you're not hurt. Pick him up, Charlie, and 
take on the grappling-hooks to yon pool ; you will get the 
hart out easily there, for he will sweep round in the cheek 
of the stream. 

Out he was taken triumphantly, and there he lay on the 
green sward, bausy and sleek, " the admired of all admirers." 
Some praised his beautiful form, and held up his wide- 
spreading antlers ; whilst others (not oblivious of currant- 
jelly) began to handle him after the fashion of Parson 
Trulliber. Certain it is he enjoyed great posthumous fame. 
But here comes Jamieson, hurried and heated with toil. 

" Well, Thomas,* have you finished that great devil ?"-|- 

" Yes, I got him on Ben-y-venie, where he went last to 
bay. But both dogs are wounded : Tarff not much ; but 
Derig, you see, is stabbed badly in four places ; and I doubt 
he may not recover." 

" Ah, poor fellow, what terrible wounds he has in his 
chest and loins ; that in his side is not so bad, for I see the 
horn has only passed between his skin and his ribs. Well, my 
brave Derig, you shall go home in the cart, and be carefully 
looked after. And the great black deer, Jamieson, that 
Shuloch took into Glen Mark ; did you get him ?" 

" Quite easy ; he was shot through the body, and made 
but a poor bay." 

" Capital ; we have made clean work of it, then, at last." 

"Joy, joy to you, Lightf oot ; they say you have killed 
two first-rate harts : what a happy mortal you must be ! 
But do, pray, tell me who that smart foreigner is who so 
nearly spoiled all our sport." 

* Thomas Jamieson lived formerly at Abbotsford, and came into the 
author's service many years ago with Sir Walter Scott's permission. He 
now acts as principal gamekeeper, and is in every way a most valuable 

t The author has kept the horns of this deer, which are splintered at the 
points, by coming in contact with the rocks when the dogs escaped from 
the thrust. 


" Most readily will I give you his history, partly collected 
from the hill-men, and partly from my own observation ; 
for when his grand affair took place I heard and saw all." 

" He is a French noble, who has had the merit of bring- 
ing himself into notice as a famous shot ; not, as I conceive, 
from any feats of skill that he has actually performed, but 
simply from his excellent soi disant qualities. He is, as 
you see, beautifully equipped ; that, indeed, no one can 
deny; dressed, too, in the most elaborate style. See how 
knowingly his rifle is slung in the German fashion. I 
assure you that, what with his gay good humour, and 
foreign singularity, he has attracted a considerable degree 
of observation : ' His discourse is sweet and voluble ;' but 
aged ears by no means ' played truant with his tales ;' for 
John Crerer and the older sportsmen discovered properties 
in him quite adequate, they said, to destroy the sport of a 
whole season. What was to be done ? If he remained in 
the glen, it was imperative on him to be totally silent : 
singing French airs was out of the question. The deer, 
said the Duke, were not to be had as in the time of Orpheus; 
on the contrary, it was more becoming to be mute, and to 
lie concealed like Marius in the marshes of Minturnse, and 
somewhat better. But it seemed quite evident that nothing 
short of the combined powers of laudanum and a strait- 
waistcoat could effect any restraint upon our gentleman. 
These were not at hand, and, if they had been so, it might 
perhaps have been thought somewhat inhospitable to have 
used them; so that idea was dropped at once. In this 
dilemma it was deemed advisable to send him up with the 
drivers, to plague you : in short, it was resolved that he 
should evacuate the glen. He started joyfully, for he was 
a famous walker — out of all sight the best in France ; 
indeed no one of any nation was equal to him. But the 
hill-men asserted that this was not his particular walking- 
day ; so that, I am told, he soon became most deplorably 
exhausted, and, according to all accounts, delayed the drive 
at least an hour or so. Fortune bounteously gave him 
many fair shots ; but, alas, what she distributed with one 
hand, she took away with the other ; for he missed them 
clean every one." 


" 3Iais cest etonnant celd. I who never make the miss!" 
" Perhaps your honour forgot to put in the ball." 
" Ah ! voild ce que cest, vous Vavez trouve, 'inon ami. 
Le moyen de tuer sans halle ! Now, then, I put in the 
powder of cannon, and there goes de ball upon the top of it 
mort de ma vie ! I now kill all the stag in Scotland, except 
a leetle, and you shall surproise much." 

He was a bad prophet, for he still went on, missing as 
before, amongst winking hill-men and grinning gillies. At 
length, however, the sun of his glory (which had been so 
long eclipsed) shone forth in amazing splendour. " For- 
tune," says Fluellen, " is painted upon a wheel, to signify 
to you (which is the moral of it) that she is turning and 
inconstant, and mutabilities and variations :" and the turn 
was now in the Count's favour, for she directed his unwill- 
ing rifle right towards the middle of a herd of deer, which 
stood " thick as the autumnal leaves that strew the brooks 
of Vallombrosa." Everything was propitious : circumstance, 
situation, and effect ; for he was descending the mountain 
in full view of our whole assemblage of sportsmen. A fine 
stag, in the midst of the herd, fell to the crack of his rifle. 
" Hah, hah !" forward ran the Count, and sat upon the pros- 
trate deer triumphing. " He hien, mon am^i, vous etes mort 
done ! Moi je fais toujours des coups sllrs. Ah! pauvre 
enfant !" He then patted the sides of the animal in pure 
wantonness, and looked east, west, north, and south for 
applause, the happiest of the happy ; finally he extracted a 
Mosaic snuff*-box from his pocket, and, with an air that 
nature has denied to all save the French nation, he held a 
pinch to the deer's nose : " Prends, mon ami, prends done." 
This operation had scarcely been performed, when the hart, 
who had only been stunned, or perhaps shot through the 
loins, sprang up suddenly, overturned the Count, ran fairly 
away, and was never seen again. 

"Arrete toi, traitre, arrete, onon enfant. Ah, cest un 
enfant perdu I Allez done a tous les diahles." 

Thus ended the Count's chasse. Everybody was very 
sorry, and nobody laughed, of course ; as for me, by my 
troth, I will never follow Frenchman's fashion in deer- 


" Capital ! our Parisian friend beats the Italian gentleman, 
who exhibited in the forest of Glengarry, all to fits ; though 
this latter noble was also of a joyous turn, and a complete 
•contemner of Harpocrates. He was posted, as I have 
heard, at a deer-drive in one of the best passes, with strict 
injunctions as to concealment ; unfortunately, he made a 
slight mistake between the letter and spirit of the law. It 
is true he hid his own person very skilfully, but placed his 
bonnet aloft on a birch branch (the weather being hot), in 
rather a commanding situation ; at length, feeling somewhat 
solitary, he began to awaken the echoes by singing Italian 
airs — 

" Eurydice, the woods, Eurydice, the floods, 
Eurydice the rocks and hollow mountains rung." 

It is needless to tell you that his Excellency had what is 
termed " a blank day." 

Althouofh a numerous herd of deer had been brouo^ht 
down, something had evidently gone wrong towards the 
east. The Count had for some time the merit of this fail- 
ure ; indeed, if he did not totally spoil the drive it was not 
his fault. There was another hero, however, who shared 
the honours with him. It was evident that a large parcel 
of deer, which ouo^ht to have come down, had s^ot the wind 
of some one on the moor; the point and manner of their 
starting was marked by the hill-men, and two of them, 
suspecting foul play, went forward to examine the ground. 
One of these men held a lurcher in the leash. After explor- 
ing the moor for some time, they came to a deep ravine. 
Still they saw no one. But, in following its course a little 
way, the lurcher held back, stretched forth his neck, and 
gave a low growl. At this unequivocal sign, one of the 
men clambered down, and discovered a hind that was newly 
killed ; and, as he was advancing under a projecting mass 
of rock, out bolted a kilted man with a gun in his hand : 
hot pursuit immediately commenced. The poacher went 
right up the chasm, down which fell a considerable quantity 
of water ; the man, who had ascended, followed after him, 
whilst the other who held the dog remained at top, ready 
to cap him when he came out. The pursuit was close and 
hot ; the poacher cutting out good work ; the pace, however 


(owing to the nature of the ground), was a bad one in 
itself. But who can make rapid way up a stony cataract ? 
They scrambled and splashed, and fell forward on their 
hands, and cut their shins, climbing over masses of rock 
that were lying in the channel, and jumping from them 
into the water-course, till, at length, the Duke's man got 
hold of the delinquent's foot as he was just springing from 
a rock above him. 

" Haud him fast, Donald, man — dinna lowse him — dinna 
let him gang aw^a at ony gait." 

" Nae fear ava. The de'il a man ever got frae me when 
it aince cam' to close grups." 

He was completely mistaken, however, for the fugitive 
slipped out his foot, and left his shoe only prisoner, which 
the wrathful hill-man sent at his head, accompanied by 
some thundering Gaelic anathema. And now the poacher 
dropped his gun ; perhaps he meant it as a lure, like the 
fabled golden apple ; or, perhaps, it was done to favour his 
speed. However this may be, he certainly made much 
better play w^ithout it. 

When Donald, who was on the banks of the ravine, saw 
how things were going on, he took the advantage of the 
even ground, headed him, and then came down into the 
chasm in front of him, so that our worthy friend was placed 
between two fires. 

Thus have I seen two cunning terriers hem in a poaching 
fox : they rage and press closely upon him, whilst the woods 
and mountains ring with their shrill clamour. Meanwhile 
the insulted beast, fixed in a position from which he sees no 
escape, bears his brush against a rock, shows his white 
teeth, and commences gallant defensive warfare. Not so 
our hero ; he thought little of deeds of arms ; — of fine and 
imprisonment much. The spectre turnkey was before him, 
and ugly visions of high grated walls and solitary dungeons 
made him desperate. With the vault of Grimaldi he seized 
hold of an impending branch of birch, swung himself aloft 
by strength of arm, and fairly escaped from the abyss, 
leaving his enemies gazing up from below. He got a capital 
start, for the hill-men could not extricate themselves with 
the same alacrity. 


The bay being now broken, they had a beautiful race 
•over the moor ; but the light-limbed foresters gained ground ; 
the fugitive's pace became worse and worse ; he laboured 
and floundered, and was at length seized, all breathless and 

" Why, how dare the like of ye to come intill his Grace's 
forest, and steal his deer ; ye shall pay the lawin, man ?" 

" Hout-tout ! I'm nae thief ava ; it's joost for my ain 
diversion ; but ye hae bin owre muckle wi' the Southrons ; 
and the like o' thae chiels aye ca' liftin', stealing." 

" I think I ha heard that afore," says Donald. " What ! 
my friend the Gown-cromb of Badenoch ? will no the 
Lias-mor, or great Garden o' Eden content the man ? must 
he come stalkin', and feeling the deer in the braes o' 
Atholl ?" 

The notorious blacksmith was soon taken down to Glen 
Tilt, and brought into presence of the Duke of Atholl : after 
a sharp remonstrance, his Grace asked him whether he would 
go to Perth gaol for three months, or stand a shot from his 
rifle at a hundred paces. 

The man said he would stand the shot. 

" Very well ; — John Crerer, step out a hundred yards." 

The ground was measured. 

" Now post the man with his front right towards me, and 
give me my best rifle, John." 

The gun was given, and raised slowly, whilst the hill-men 
stood by in a group in breathless suspense ; the direction of 
their eyes changing alternately from his Grace to the man. 
A long and steady aim was taken — it was an awful moment, 
but the blacksmith neither flinched nor stirred; at length 
the cap of the rifle only exploded. 

" Pshaw ! Give me another rifle, John, and take care that 
it be better loaded." 

The second rifle missed fire also, as well it might, it 
having been of course arranged that there should be no 
<iharge in it. 

" Well, you are a lucky fellow, for I see your time is not 
yet come. Give the man his fill of whiskey, John ; he does 
not lack couraore : but mark me, Master Gown-cromb, if ever 
you come after my deer again, my rifle will not miss fire; 


and if it does, the gaol at Perth is large enough to hold 
you, and all the poachers in Badenoch, though ye are a 
numerous progeny." 

" I winna say that I will gang entirely wi'out my sport, 
for I canna aye be wanting venison ; but yer Grace shall 
never find me in yer forest again. There's mony a stoot 
hart in Glenfiddock, and mony a yell hind in the pine woods 
of Braemar, let alone Gaig and Glen Feshie ; and I will 
leave the braes of Atholl for yer Grace to tak yer pleasure 
in, and never fash them more since ye request the favour." 

Thus ended a deer hunt, fit for the recreation of King 
Jamie ; and although stags were not slain by hundreds, as 
Lesley has chronicled, or by scores, as the water poet has. 
recounted — both of which accounts I hold to be gross 
exaggerations — yet the sport probably was quite as ample 
in proportion to the numbers engaged in it, and the small 
space of time that was occupied in bringing down the deer. 

The glen, too, as in times of yore, was graced by the 
presence of many a fair and noble dame who had been 
waiting the termination of the drive in the mountain lodges ; 
indeed, it is recorded that ladies of high station have not 
only felt a great inclination towards this noble sport, but 
have actually engaged in it. 

" Her Majesty" (Queen Elizabeth), says a courtier, writing 
to Sir Robert Sidney, " is well and excellently disposed to 
hunting; for every second day she is on horseback, and 
continues the sport long." At this time she was in her 
seventy-seventh year, and was then at her palace at Oat- 

The party now proceeded to the hospitable halls of Blair ; 
where we will leave them, amidst cultivated society and 
high-born beauty. 

" To fight their battles o'er again, 
And thrice to slav the slain." 

♦There are various other notices of the delight this Queen took in the 
diversion of killing the stag. 




Forest Contracts. — Wandering Poachers. - English Vagabonds. — Adventure at Felaar. — 
Highland Vampire.— Peter Breck's Backsliding. —Trap Baited with Whiskey.— The 
Gaig Pet Stolen.— Poacher's Adventure.— Desolate Situation.— A Highland Witch.— 
Chisholm's Cave. — Freebooter's Life. — John More. — Sutherland Monster.— A Priest 
in Jeopardy. — Highland Robin Hood. — Ourna-kelig. — The Widow's Hospitality. — 
Rival Poachers in Atholl.— Adventure in Glen Tilt.— Rob Doun.—Curious Trial for 
Murder. — A Polyglot Ghost. — Ghost no Lawyer. 

** Donald Caird can wire a maukin' ; 
Kens the wiles o' dun deer staukin' ; 
Liters kippers, makes a shift 
To shoot a moor-fowl in a drift. 
Water-bailiffs, rangers, keepers, 
He can wauk whiles they are sleepers ; 
Nor for bountith or reward, 
Dare you mell wi' Donald Caird." 

Sir W. Scott. 

The passion for hunting v^ild animals is probably one of 
the most powerful affections of the mind where it has once 
taken root. It is the recreation of nobles and of kings, the 
solace of the gentry, and the allurement of the paradise of 
wild nations. After death, the Indian of the West believes 
that he shall ascend the' Rocky Mountains, "and there 
among the crags, and snows, and tumbling torrents ; and, 
after many moons of painful toil, he will reach the summit, 
from whence he will have a view over the land of souls : 
there he will see the happy hunting-grounds, with the spirits 
of the brave and the good, living in tents in the green mea- 
dows, by bright running streams ; or hunting the herds 
of buffalo, and elk.s, and deer, which have been slain on 
earth." ''' 

If we look back to remote periods in our own country, 
we shall find that the most severe laws — mutilation, and 
even the penalty of death itself, have not had sufficient ter- 
rors to arrest the course of unlawful depredators. Deer- 
killing by poachers was formerly carried on to such an 

* Adventures of Captain Bonneville, by W. Irving, Esq. 


extent, that the proprietors of forests found it necessary to 
combine in order to protect their mutual interests. In the 
" Collectanea de rebus Albanicis" of the lona Club, there is 
a contract, dated November 3, 1628, between several of the 
principal Highland lairds " for the preservation of deer and 
roe on their respective estates, and the punishment of tres- 
passers ; mutually binding themselves to respect each other's 
forests, and cause them to be respected by their retainers, 
under special penalties, according to the rank of the person 
transgressing : a hundred merks for a gentleman, with for- 
feiture of the hagbute or bow ; £40 for a tenant ; and, in 
case of a common man, " his body to be punishit according 
as pleises the superior of the forest : ane witness sufficient." 
They appear to have had a sort of jury trial for poachers. 

There are several old Acts of the Scottish Parliament 
" anent steilors of hart, hynd, roe, and doe, to be punishit as 
thift, and anent shuitteries at Thame ; quhilk is appointed 
to be punishit with death, and escheit of their gudes move- 
able." These laws have been reckoned barbarous, but they 
are not more severe than those which, in former times, were 
in force against sheep-stealers, taking likewise into consi- 
deration, that sheep are of infinitely less value than deer. 
If it be true that deer wander from one forest to another, so 
that no laird can claim a certain property in them, it is also 
obvious that the common poacher can have no right in any 
case, and must steal from some one or another. The claim 
can rest with the landed proprietors only. It is a fair give 
and take business according to the direction of the wind ; 
your third man, however, steps in, and I think enjoys the 
sport much more than those who are privileged to follow it. 
In the "History of Badenoch," it is mentioned that Cluny 
Macpherson deprived a man of his arm, and of one of his 
eyes, who killed deer afterwards in this mutilated condition. 
I do not mean to defend the lawless proceedings of poachers, 
but I cannot help confessing that there is something so 
adventurous, and so full of picturesque character in these 
rough fellows — so much skill exhibited by them, and such 
endurance of climate and fatigue, as may in some degree be 
admitted as extenuating qualities ; and I would not, as 
Shakspeare's town-clerk says, "condemn them to everlasting 


redemption for this;" I would simply transpor^ om to the 
wilds of America, where they could enjoy the sport with- 
out injury to any one, and we might carry on a trade of 
furs and skins with such free trappers. 

Deer-poaching is carried on in two distinct methods. In 
the one case, by a man who belongs more or less to the 
spot, and who hovers about the moors, watching the keepers, 
and seizing his opportunity ; and in the other, by gangs of 
marauders who go from forest to forest, as the wind serves, 
and act in concert. These latter men take possession of 
some deserted bothy, or even of the shooting-lodges, if they 
are left unoccupied. There was a bothy on Tarff side so 
frequented by them, that it was thought necessary to pull 
it down altogether. These poachers commence their opera- 
tions chiefly at the termination of the regular season, so 
that the harts are entirely rank and useless. The yeld 
hinds, however, come in at that period, and are very fine 
venison; and all the other hinds make the best possible 
soup, and are very good hill-man's eating, though they are 
totally devoid of fat. 

Such poachers as go about in gangs are rough, pictur- 
esque-looking fellows, able to face any weather ; and they 
act, as I have said, in concert. Being a stronger force, they 
can remove the deer which they kill, without much incon- 
venience, and can readily dispose of it in the country. 
During the time of their depredations, they subsist upon 
w^hat is not saleable ; and with this, and their whiskey and 
tobacco, they must pass a very pleasant wandering life. It 
is extremely difficult for keepers to apprehend these foragers, 
as all of them have glasses, and cannot easily be surprised 
in the open country. The best way is to attack the bothy 
by night, and a fine animating scene it would be. I do not 
think that the men would endeavour to save themselves by 
the commission of murder. They have still a high rever- 
ence for their chieftains, which would restrain them from 
-committing bloody excesses upon their lawful agents. In 
the Highlands, one never hears of such ruffians as infest 
the preserves in England ; men who screw up their courage 
at the beer-houses, asserting with imprecations that they 
will shoot any keeper rather than be taken. A vicious set 


they are, bringing up their families in idleness and profli- 
gacy ; proceeding from crime to crime^ till at last their 
career ends either on the gallows, or in transportation. I 
have fined and imprisoned scores of these vagabonds, soma 
of them two or three times over, and I never yet heard of 
one that was reclaimed. They are absolute thieves, for 
there can be no sport in taking a hare out of a wire, or 
shooting a pheasant on his perch by night. 

Your Gael, on the contrary, has a fine rough sort of sense 
of honour about him — peculiar enough to be sure — thus, 
" the man who refused thirty thousand pounds for betray- 
ing his prince, was hanged at last for stealing a cow." It 
was not long since a poacher was taken in the forest of 
Braemar : having some good points in his character, the 
nobleman who rents the ground very generously told him, 
that if he would promise never to poach again in that district, 
his gun, which had been taken from him, should be restored, 
and he himself should be set at liberty. He very coolly 
replied that he wished to have an hour to consider of the 
matter ; at the expiration of that time he stepped forward 
and said, " Ye may tak' my gun, and me too, for I will no 
gie the promise." 

Occasionally some superstitious dread will do more to 
prevent deer-stealing than the most rigid legal enactments. 
An instance having such a tendency occurred some years 
ago in the forest of Atholl. 

There is a shooting lodge built at Felaar, which lying 
between the Atholl and Braemar country, has often aflPorded 
a warm night's rest to travellers overtaken by darkness in 
that bleak and rugged country ; when left unoccupied, it 
has frequently been taken possession of by poachers. Two 
such characters arrived there some few years ago after a 
pretty successful foray, and finding the door resist their 
eflforts, they broke open the window, and thus having 
gained admittance, they kindled a fire, and began to con- 
sider themselves quite at home. Their first object was to 
prepare their supper, but having no water in the house, one 
of them undertook to fetch some ; for this purpose he was 
obliged to get out of the window. Having put forth his 
leofs first, he was restinfj his arms on the window-sill, with 


his face fronted to the interior of the cottage. Whilst in 
this position, he began to scream with all his might, roaring 
out that some fiend had hold of his leg, and was tearing it 
and sucking his blood. At length, by a violent struggle, he 
extricated himself, and gained the ground, still in great 
fright and pain. In searching round he could see neither 
man nor beast, nor any living thing. But he very gravely 
asserted that he saw some white objects and some faint blue 
lights at a distance, which continually shifted their situa- 
tions, and at length vanished entirely. 

Having procured water, he did not venture to return 
through the window ; but the door was broken open by the 
united efforts of himself and his companion. They spent the 
night in a state of superstitious alarm, nor could they on 
the following morn discover the track of man or beast about 
the place; their own footsteps alone were visible. The 
injury remained for a considerable period; the man, indeed, 
bore the marks of it all his life, as many people now living 
at Blair can testify. This occurrence, remaining unac- 
counted for^ had such an effect, that no poacher took up 
his quarters at Felaar Cottage in after times. 

Men of this description usually set forth at night when 
the keepers have retired, that they may be on the desired 
ground betimes in the morning ; thus they gain some hours 
upon them. If the wind serves, their first manoeuvre is to 
get the deer out of the forest, which is very easily done ; 
and when they have them there, they keep them as long 
as they can ; but unless they go clear away to another forest 
they generally return by a circuit with a side wind at night. 
The only method to defeat these lawless proceedings, is to 
throw up peat bothies near the outskirts of the forest at 
proper intervals, and place keepers in them. Such men 
must be constant in their residence, or the poachers will 
exchange places with them. 

I will now relate a story which shows that the keepers 
themselves had not in former times a very nice perception 
of equity : — 

In the month of July, 1783, the Duke of AthoU sum- 
moned his three principal foresters, John Crerer, Moon, and 
Peter Robertson, and promised a handsome reward to him 


who should kill the fattest hart within the allotted period 
of two days, which was meant as a present to the king 
{George III.) Crerer and Moon set forward on the follow- 
ing morning before daybreak, each attended by a hill-man, 
and provided with a horse. Not so Peter Robertson, better 
known by the name of Peter Breck (from his being pitted 
with the small-pox). He had revolved a scheme in his 
mind which required privacy and craft worthy of the best 
times of Johnny Armstrong. A sort of raid it was, or lift- 
ing from his neighbours' grounds — that is to say from the 
lands of Gaig.* These lands were at the time possessed by 
Stewart, of Garth (the late General Stewart's father), and 
another gentleman ; they kept their sheep in Gaig all the 
summer and during the harvest, and on a low farm in the 
winter and spring. Alexander MacDougall and Archibald 
MacDermid were shepherds in Gaig for many years ; and 
they had taken a fawn,*!* which they tamed, and brought 
up with two milch cows that were pastured in Gaig all the 
summer ; and at the time I am now treating of, this pet 
hart was five years old. He was taken to the low farm 
during winter and spring, and .generally lodged every night 
in the barn ; they fed him upon oats, hay, barley, or peas 
in the straw, of which latter provender he was extrava- 
gantly fond. By these means he became enormously fat, 
and of a towering size, so that he probably exceeded in 
weight any hart in the forest of Atholl. Now Peter Breck 
was mindful of this bonny beast, and had often turned the 
tail of his eye upon him ; but his virtue, or, it may be, the 
manner in which the animal was guarded, had hitherto 
borne him out against all temptations. That virtue, how- 
•ever, so impregnable when little was to be gained, began to 
succumb before the promised reward. Great allowances 
must be made for our friend Breck's backsliding, for lifting 
was not quite disgraceful in those days ; besides the animal 
was fat, stupendous in size, and, in short, altogether unde- 
niable. So Peter took his sheltie and attendant, slunk 
away cannily in the gloaming, proceeded up Glenbruar, and 

* Spelt also Gawick. 
t Calf is the proper term, but both are used. 


arrived, at the grey dawn of day, at the shepherd's lodge at 
Gaig. He had previously left his attendant and his horse 
and gun a considerable distance above the lodge, at a place 
called Gargaig. He soon roused the shepherds from their 
slumbers, and, pretending to be very drunk, laid himself 
down upon one of the beds they had quitted. This was 
all very natural, for Peter had no great character for 
sobriety; loud and deep did he snore — never surely was 
sleep so sound. 

And now, as he was lying dormant, as it seemed, what 
should the shepherds see but the black neck of a whiskey 
bottle peeping out from one of his pockets. Why should 
they not tak' it ? What for no ? the man was fou already, 
and couldna want mair. Out it came then, and was soon 
despatched. The said bottle was then filled with water, 
and returned to the place from whence they extracted it. 
Breck then turned restlessly on his other side, when, lo ! 
the neck of another bottle delighted the eyes of the fortunate 
herdsmen ; this was treated precisely in the same manner as 
the first had been, for Breck's snoring was awful, and they 
were safe enough from interruption. As soon as this second 
bottle had been filled with water and replaced in the pocket,. 
Peter thought proper to awake. The shepherds now having 
drunk a bottle of whiskey each, had little inclination to go 
to the hill ; so they made a fire, and began to cook some 
victuals ; Breck joined them as they were eating, and told 
them he could help them to some good whiskey, which he 
had in his pocket : this they thought it prudent to decline, 
saying it was too early to drink ; but little suspecting that 
he had been watching all their motions. 

Both the herdsmen soon became heavy, and feeling 
inclined to sleep, the one threw himself on the bed, and 
the other slept on his seat by the fireside. Breck having 
thus far accomplished his object, stole out of the bothy, 
and seeing the cows and the stag browsing in the plain 
below, he drove them slowly to Gargaig, where he had left 
his rifle, horse, and attendant. The stag followed the cows, 
as he was accustomed to do ; and now being fairly at too 
great a distance from the lodge for his shot to be heard, he 
levelled, and despatched the hart most deliberately. No- 


time was lost in cording it on the horse, and off he went 
homewards as fast as he could ; but the horse, although a 
good Highland garron, had such difficulty in carrying his 
heavy burthen, that they were obliged to rest at Glenbruar, 
^nd it was dusk before they reached the castle of Blair. 

Breck's arrival made no small sensation; the Duke 
hastened out to see what he had brought home ; and being 
surprised at the great size of the animal, which was brought 
to the portal of the castle, asked where he had the good 
fortune to kill it. " Not on your Grace's grounds," was the 
reply, — "Where then?" inquired the Duke. "On the 
Inverness-shire hills," replied Breck : " I have had this 
hart in my eye for years, and have seen him frequently, 
but never in the company of any other deer." On being 
weighed, he was found to be nineteen stone, Dutch weight, 
without the gralloch. 

Breck got the reward, somewhat to the mortification of 
Moon and of Crerer, who were better men. The truth, 
however, soon broke out, and his competitors lost no time 
in reporting to the Duke that Breck had stolen the Gaig 
pet. His Grace sent for him, and demanded if it were true 
that he had stolen it. Breck denied the theft lustily ; — he 
'couldna say ' but that it was the Gaig pet, but declared that 
he had got it from the shepherds for a Scotch pint of 
whiskey, which is about two quarts. The Duke expressing 
his surprise that they should part with it for such a trifle, 
Breck explained to his Grace, that the shepherds were aware 
that he (Breck) knew that they had got the stag, when a 
fawn in the Atholl forest ; as well as that they frequently 
poached both deer and moor-fowl there ; so that, under 
these considerations, they gave up the pet for the Scotch 
pint. Peter, however, had still to reckon with the 
shepherds ; but he held their attack lightly, and told them, 
that they were repaid tenfold by their depredations on the 
Atholl forest, thanked them for the care they had taken of 
his fawn, and advised them never to steal an honest man s 
whiskey again, taking advantage of his being asleep. 

In the year 1773, two poachers set forth from the 
Braemar country in quest of deer ; the weather had been 
lowering for some time, and when they arrived at Tarff 


"Side, they were avertaken by a snow storm ; it was not 
however severe, and when it cleared up, the wind being 
north, they soon got a parcel of deer out of the forest of 
AthoU : these made a long start, as they always do when 
the wind is in that quarter ; thus the men had them 
quite away from the preserved part of the forest, and in 
a situation where they were not likely to be interfered with. 

After considerable manoeuvring, which occupied the 
greater part of the day, they wounded a hind, and traced 
her a long distance by her blood-drops on the snow. In 
the meantime, as the day drew near a close, the wind rose, 
and the snow-blast returned with greater violence ; and 
havinor been intent on followinoj the traces of the wounded 
deer, they had wandered about till they were completely 
lost. In this condition they heaped up a few stones and 
turfs, and having their plaids, and some oat-cake and 
whiskey with them, passed the night without any very 
serious inconvenience. 

The dawn brought no alleviation to their anxiety ; the 
winds howled, and the snow fell, so that no outline of 
mountain or landmark could be seen. It was now no 
longer a question of killing deer, but of saving their lives. 
The wind, which continued north, was their only guide, and 
by turning their back upon it, they avoided the brunt of 
the storm, and had hopes of reaching Glen Tilt or the Strath 
of the Tay. The snow had drifted in such masses, that 
they were unable to pursue any decided line, and it was so 
deep in all places where the wind had not acted upon it, 
that their advance was very slow, and laborious. 

The small stock of provisions which they took out with 
them was exhausted ; the wind got more into the east — a 
change they were not aware of — so that in turning their 
backs upon it, they travelled towards the west instead of 
towards the south, as they fancied they were doing. 

At length, when night was setting in, they saw a deep 
and unknown glen of joyless aspect before them ; they 
descended into it, to avoid the bleak winds of the summits, 
and had proposed to put up a few stones and turfs for 
shelter during the dark hours. Whilst they were looking 
for a convenient spot, to their great relief they discovered a 


shieling, deserted, as they imagined, as buildings in such 
remote places usually are in the winter. What, then, was 
their surprise, when, upon approaching the door, it was at 
once opened, even without their knocking. A woman pre- 
sented herself, of a wild and haggard aspect ; told them she 
had been expecting them, and that their supper and beds 
were ready. Even so they found it — the pot was boiling,, 
and bannocks and oat-cake were placed upon the table, and 
also two plates, for the expected guests. There was some- 
thing so extraordinary about this old woman, that it 
operated as a sort of fascination, and the men's eyes were 
continually turned upon her. She had large features, long^ 
lank hair, and small grey eyes, deeply sunk, and conveying 
a striking expression of vice and cunning ; she halted on 
one leg, and chaunted a wild song, in an unknown language, 
while she was pouring out the kail. 

Tired and exhausted as the men were, the whole thing^ 
appeared to their superstitious imaginations so much like 
witchcraft, that, although half famished, they could scarcely 
bring themselves -to eat. Fear came upon them, when she 
waved her long sinewy arms, and darkly hinted that she 
had power over the winds and the storm, muttering at 
intervals some unintelligible sentences ; then at once holding^ 
up a rope, with three knots tied in it : " If," quoth she, " I 
lowse the first, there shall blaw a fair wind, such as the deer 
stalker may wish ; if I lowse the second, a stronger blast 
shall sweep o'er the hills ; and if I lowse the third, sic a 
storm will brack out, as neither man or beast can thole ; and 
the blast shall yowl down the corries and the glens, and the 
pines shall fa' crashin' into the torrents, and this bare arm 
shall guide the course o' the storm, as I sit on my throne of 
Cairn-Gower, on the tap of Ben-y-Gloe. Weel did ye ken 
my po'er the day, when the wind was cauld and deidly, 
and all was dimmed in snaw, — and ye see that ye was^ 
expectit here, and ye hae brought nae venison ; but if ye 
mean to thrive, ye maun place a fat hart, or a yeld hind in 
the braes of Atholl, by Eraser's cairn, at midnight, the first 
Monday in every month, while the season lasts, — the laird's 
ghaist will no meddle wi' it. If ye neglect this my bidding, 
foul will befall ye, and the fate of Walter of Rhuairm shall 


o'ertake ye ; ye shall surely perish on the waste ; the raven 
shall croak your dirge ; and your banes shall be pickit by 
the eagle." 

Awed, superstitious, and depressed as they were by 
fatigue, the poachers were not backward in giving the 
promise, though it is not very probable that they ever per- 
formed it. They passed the night in deep sleep, and it was 
late before they rose from their beds of heather, when they 
asserted that their hostess had vanished. 

The snow storm having ceased, they found their way into 
the track which led to Blair, and got into the strath of the 
Tay. This is supposed to have been the last time that the 
witch of Ben-y-gloe held converse with mortal man ; but 
those who were less given to superstition believed that the 
woman had been expecting her own friends, who were 
probably also poachers detained by the storm, and that 
she had made use of the above artifices in order to obtain 

Chisholm's Cave, in Carn-Vaduc, in the Ben Klibreck 
forest, in Sutherland, derives its name from a freebooter, 
who passed his life in caverns, poaching and living upon 
pillage. His early history cannot be traced satisfactorily ; 
but it is probable that he became a recluse in consequence 
of having: committed some atrocious crime ; and that he 
selected the retired cave at the back of Klibreck, from his 
love of a forest life. He was not a native of Sutherland, 
nor had he, whilst there, been guilty of any heinous crime ; 
but he scrupled not to make frequent nocturnal visits to the 
inhabited parts of Strathnaver, and, on such occasions, to 
carry off to his caverns, corn, and such other necessaries, as 
were not to be procured around his desolate abode. 

The large cave, which bears his name, is an extensive 
winding cavity, or rather a succession of open spaces, or 
holes of unusual size, such as BrobdiOTao- rabbits miMit be 
supposed to haunt. In this dismal labyrinth, Chisholm 
lived many years ; it is said he kept two cows underground, 
and left venison in lieu of the hay and grain which he 
plundered in the cultivated strath. 

This sort of bartering gave little offence ; nay, some were 
gratified by it, for Chisholm was dreaded as a lawless man, 


whom it was dangerous to anger or molest : they considered 
that a person who could live in the gloomy holes under 
Carn-Vaduc, must be in the service of the powers of dark- 
ness, and that it was not safe or canny to interfere with 
him. Even the foresters used to shun him, though he was 
never known to offer personal violence. He lived so much 
apart from the rest of mankind, and was so seldom seen, 
that his dress and appearance became latterly a matter of 
doubt, and the manner and time of his death was never 
known. He either removed privately from the country, or 
expired in one of the remote chambers of the cavern, which 
no person was hardy enough to explore, 

A similar sj^stem of free living was adopted by a man 
named John More, who lived in Durness about the same 
time, and rented a small farm near the Dirrie-more. He 
neither had, nor cared to have, permission to kill deer and 
game ; but his whole time was devoted to poaching, and his 
wild mode of life rendered him an uncouth but tolerated 
plunderer of the forest. 

Donald Lord Reay happening to pass near John More's 
residence one summer morning, determined to call and 
endeavour to reclaim him from his lawless propensities. 
He left his attendants at some distance, that he might 
ensure confidence on the part of his rude host. He found 
John at home, and told him that he called to get some 
breakfast. John was evidently proud of this visit, and 
pleased with the frank manner in which he was accosted, 
having been usually threatened by those in authority with 
imprisonment and the gallows. 

" Come in, Donald," said John, in Gaelic, " and sit on my 
stool, and you will get to eat what cost me some trouble in 

His lordship entered the hut, and was soon seated in a 
dismal corner ; but John opened a wooden shutter that had 
filled up a hole in the wall, through which day-light entered, 
and revealed a tall black-looking box, which was the only 
article in the house that could be used as a table. John bustled 
about with great activity, and, to his lordship's surprise, 
pulled out from the box two or three beautifully white dinner 
napkins. One of them was placed on the top of the box as 


a tablecloth, and the other spread on his lordship's knees. 
The fire, which glimmered in the centre of the room, was 
then roused, and made to burn more freely. This proceeding 
denoted that John had some provisions to cook; — from a 
dark mysterious recess he drew forth a fine grilse, already 
split open and ready for being dressed. By means of two 
long wooden spigots, which skewered the fish, and the points 
of which were stuck into the earthen hearth, the grilse was 
placed before the burning peats, and turned occasionally. 
Soon after a suspicious-looking piece of meat was placed 
•over the embers ; and when all was cooked, John placed it 
upon the box before his chief, saying — " John Mores fattest 
dish is ready :" — adding, that the salmon* was from one of 
his lordship's rivers, and the meat the breast of a deer. 
Lord Reay asked for a knife and some salt ; but John 
replied — " that teeth and hands were of little use, if they 
could not master dead fish and flesh ; that the deer seasoned 
their flesh with salt on the hill, whilst the herring could not 
do so in the sea ; and that the salmon, like the Durness 
butter, was better without salt." 

John produced, also, some smuggled brandy ; and pressed 
his lordship to eat and drink heartily, making many remarks 
on the manliness of eating a good breakfast. 

The chief thought this a good opportunity to endeavour 
to make a proper impression upon his lawless host ; and, 
after having been handsomely regaled by plunder from his 
own forest, determined to act with such generosity towards 
More as would keep him within reasonable bounds in future, 

" I am well pleased, John," said he " that although you 
invade the property of others, you do not conceal the truth, 
and that you have freely given me the best entertainment 
that your depredations on my property have enabled you 
to bestow. I will, therefore, allow you to go occasionally 
to Fionavon in search of a deer, if you will engage not to 
interfere with deer, or any sort of game, in any other part 
in my forest." 

More could never tolerate anj' restraint, and his answer 
was begun almost before Lord Keay had finished his hand- 
some offer. 

*A grilse is supposed to be a young salmon. 


" Donald," said he, " you may put Fionav^on in your 
paunch, — for wherever the deer are, there will John More 
be found." 

This conversation was in Gaelic, in which lancruao^e the 
peculiar phraseology is more piquant than can be rendered 
in English. 

Donald MacCurrochy Mac-Ean-More, who lived latterly 
at Hope, was another very noted poacher in Sutherland. 
Numerous anecdotes are told of this man ; but they refer 
rather to the great enormities he was in the habit of com- 
mitting, than to his lighter trespasses amongst the deer. 
His acts of violence and injustice were so unusual and 
savage, as to render him an object of universal abhorrence. 

His family name was Macleod. He deliberately mur- 
dered his nephew, that he might possess himself of the 
adjoining lands of Eddrachilles ; and he afterwards put to 
death several of his friends, whose revenge he anticipated. 
He was an expert archer ; — so ruthless a villain, and so 
ready to slay any one that offended him, — and, indeed, every 
one whom he could attack, whether friend or foe, that, at 
a period when the law was quite inoperative in the remote 
corners of the Highlands, he became the terror of the entire 
country. The greater part of his time was spent in the Dirrie- 
more forest, where he was very successful with his long bow. 
His nephew, when attacked by him, took refuge in a 
straw-covered hut, in an island on an inland loch ; but 
MacCurrochy tied burning pitch and tow to the head of an 
arrow, and firing it into the roof, set the place in flames. 
The young man endeavoured to escape by swimming, but an 
arrow from the ruffian's bow pierced his heart just as he 
was reaching the shore. 

MacCurrochy 's shieling was without a door or window, 
and he entered by a hole in the roof, from which he would 
occasionally take a shot at a passing traveller. It is re- 
ported of him, that when walking with his son, a mere boy, 
on the banks of the river Hope, they saw a neighbouring 
priest on the opposite side of the river ; young MacCurrochy 
exclaimed — 

" O, daddy, give me your bow that I may bring down the 


" He is at too great a distance from you/' said the father, 
■" and you would get us into trouble, if you attempted to 
kill him without succeeding." 

The priest, unconscious of his danger, approached nearer 
the river, and seated himself on a projecting stone. 

" Now, daddy," said the youngster, " give me the bow, as 
I am certain I can hit him." 

But the old man, still doubtful of his son's success, and 
expecting to obtain a nearer aim, refused this second request 
also. When the priest moved off, the boy insisted upon 
being permitted to shoot at the stone upon which he had 
been sitting ; and having hit it with an arrow the very first 
trial, MacCurrochy complained bitterly of his want of judg- 
ment in having resisted his son's desire, and d d himself 

*' for vexing the boy's spirit." 

MacCurrochy was master of a gun, which, along with his 
bow, he is said to have thrown into a deep cavity amongst 
the loose blocks of stone on the side of Craig-na-garbat, 
which forms a shoulder of Ben-Hope, when he felt himself 
dying. Many attempts have been made by the neigh- 
bouring inhabitants to discover these relics, but without 

This ruthless villain was buried in a hole in the wall of 
Durness church, by his own direction, to baulk the threat 
of an old woman, who told him when he was dying that 
she should soon have the pleasure of dancing over his grave. 
There is a rude monument over his resting-place, on which 
a grotesque figure of Donald is cut, in which he is repre- 
sented as drawinor his bow and killinor a deer. There is 
also an inscription, bearing date 1623, the year of his death. 
It runs as follows : — 

" Donald Makmarchor 
Hier Ijds lo vas. il to his 
Friend, Var to his Fo : 
True : to his Maister in Veird 
And Vo." 

IVhich was probably meant to pass as rhyme, thus, — 

Donald M'Marchow here lies low, 

Was ill to his friend, war (worse) to his foe ; 

True to his master in word and vow, 

(Or in weal and woe). 


Several of the forest anecdotes in Sutherland refer to a 
person known by the name of Our-na-Kelig, who resided 
in the parish of Loth, and who appears to have been not 
only a most successful and constant hunter of deer, but also 
a most stout and valiant clansman. His history is involved 
in considerable mystery, but his memory does not appear to 
have been tarnished with anything like secret assassination, 
or other serious crime. His proper name is unknown ; that 
of Our-na-Kelig, by which alone he is referred to in tradi- 
tion, is, I am told, descriptive of the grey, or light colour 
of his dress, and of his being a great eater of cod fish, or 
often engaged in catching it. 

In a bloody skirmish between some Strathnaver men and 
those of the eastern coast of Sutherland, at Drumderg, in Glen 
Loth, Our-na-Kelior enorafyed one of the Strathnaver men, 
whose two sons also were present. He always laid about 
him with a two-handed sword, swinging it around with 
great fury, and letting it fall on his adversary with irresist- 
ible violence; giving such a stroke as Ariosto describes, 
when he says, " Gala un fendente ;" Anglice, — " Lets fall a. 
cleaver." With this formidable weapon he soon despatched 
the Strathnaver man, — whether or not he divided him from 
head to foot into two equal parts, tradition does not say ; 
but it relates that the sons of the slain man rushed instantly 
on the victor with desperate rage, but only to meet the 
death of their father. 

The Strathnaver men were defeated ; and the fame pre- 
viously acquired by Our-na-Kelig as a formidable swords- 
man, was prodigiously increased by the slaughter of three 
powerful men in open combat. 

Soon after this onslauo^ht, Our-na-Kelio^ went into the 
Ben Ormin forest to kill himself some venison, as he was 
wont to do, without being very particular about the laws 
of property. 

" The good old rule 

Sufficed him ; the simple plan, 
That they should take who have the power, 
And they should keep who can." 

He bent the best and the stifFest bow in the country, killed 
a deer when he was hungry, and would devour a whole 


limb of it, hastily roasted between two peat fires, lighted 
for the purpose on the open heath. Well, he set forth in 
quest of venison, nor had he been out long before he 
wounded a hart, and sent his dog after him. The chase 
led him far away over the hills, and he was overtaken by 
a heavy snow-storm ; benumbed with cold, and weary with 
floundering in the drift, his only hope for preserving his 
life consisted, perhaps, in being able to reach one of the 
shielings in Strathnaver. After long and painful toil — his 
life-blood chilled, and in a state of dreadful exhaustion — 
he arrived after nightfall at a small bothy during one of 
the most bitter blasts of the storm; far different now in 
plight than on that memorable day when he signalised 
himself in combat, he humbly sued for shelter. The shiel- 
ing was inhabited only by a woman and her daughter, who, 
being intimidated, refused his request. He earnestly an- 
swered that he was so worn out by struggling against the 
storm, that he could go no farther, and that he must shortly 
perish if refused admittance. The poor woman's kind 
heart got the better of her fears, and she removed the 
fastenings of the door ; then, as it was driven inwards by the 
violence of the wind, and as the snow beat upon her careworn 
face, she said in Gaelic, whilst the tear stood in her eye — 

" That on such a night as this she could not refuse admis- 
sion into her bothy even to Our-na-Kelig himself, should 
he be wandering on the moor, although he had slain her 
good-man and her two brave sons, and left her ill to do in 
the world, and desolate." 

Our-na-Kelig was not personally known to this poor 
widow, and having obtained admittance and shelter, fore- 
bore to distress her feelings by revealing his name to one 
who had so much reason to dread and detest him. He ate 
of her meal, and restored his benumbed limbs before her 
peat-fire ; and it may be that his heart smote him as he felt 
his vigour returning, and cast his eyes upon his wretched 
preserver. He parted from her next morning with expres- 
sions of gratitude ; and upon his return home, sent her 
five bolls of meal from his rich corn farm in the parish of 
Loth, and continued the same gratuity to her annually 
durinor her life. 


The following account will prove the extent to which 
poaching was occasionally carried on, even in the face of 
honest and vigilant keepers. 

One of the most notorious poachers in Atholl forest in 
former days, was D S .* He resided in the dis- 
trict, and is still living. He kept his masons upon venison 
whilst they were building his house in 1812, and subsisted 
his family on the same diet. 

This D S , accompanied by C R and 

A e, went forth on a poaching excursion in 

the forest of Atholl, when they knew that the regular 
foresters w^ere upon distant duty. After having killed two 

or three deer, which C R , as being the least skilful 

shot of the party, was left to gralloch, night came on, and 
they boldly made for the lodge of Ridorrach.f Early the 
next morning the wind w^as to the north, and they saw a 
long string of deer coming forward towards Ben Derig ; 
judging from this that some one was coming up the glen, 
they shifted their quarters without loss of time, crossed the 
Bruar, and from an eminence on the west of the river, with 
the help of their glasses, they spied Donald Macbeath, the 
forester, who lived down the glen, at Richlachrie, and who 
was coming up the water side. 

Having the advantage of the ground, and the wind being 
north, this did not impede their operations, and by one 

o'clock D S had shot two hinds. In the midst of 

this success they saw three men (who had probably been 
stalking them for some time) running towards them at full 
speed. They immediately took to flight, but having their 
guns and other incumbrances with them, whilst their pur- 
suers were empty-handed, they lost ground rapidly. Thus 
they were reduced to the predicament either of surrender- 
ing or giving battle. Things being in this state, O e 

motioned to them with his hand to keep back, and told 
them that if they did not mind his voice, he would send a 
stronger and a more unwelcome messenger to them. They 

* Some of these worthies being still in existence, their names are partly 
suppressed according to promise. 

1 1 am not quite clear as to the accuracy of this name, being unacquainted 
with it myself. 


paid no heed to this threat, and e, actually putting 

his co\Yardly threat into execution, levelled his piece and 
fired. The ball struck the snow at the feet of one of the 

S and R , his comrades, were thunderstruck at 

this mad act of e, and peaceably awaited the coming 

up of the other party, who proved to be poachers like them- 
selves. The man fired at was outrao^eous, and he had ofood 
reason to be so ; but after various threats on one side, and 
submission on the other, matters at length took a pacific 

These poachers who had given chase, finding that others 
of the fraternity were before them, and were putting a com- 
plete obstacle to their success, hid their guns, and endea- 
voured, by passing for keepers, to drive them out of the 
forest. The finesse, as has been seen, wanted but little of 
ending in bloodshed. 

When men went forth singly on these unlawful excur- 
sions, they were sometimes placed in considerable difficulties 
for want of efiicient assistance. A poacher had very lately 
a desperate struggle in Glen Tilt, the particulars of which 
I mention as they came from his own mouth, for he was 
never discovered. 

He set ofi* in the evening, that he might be on a deer-cast 
by the grey of the morning : whilst it was dark he descried 
the horns of a deer in a hollow very near him ; he had small 
shot only in his gun, and was in such a position that he could 
not change the charge without danger of disturbing the 
stag. He crept, however, so close to him, that when he 
sprung on his legs, he fell to the shot. Not a little surprised, 
the poacher threw down his gun, dashed forward and seized 
his victim by the hind leg ; but it was no easy matter to 
hold him. In this struggle the man kept his grip firmly, 
whilst the deer dragged him at a tearing pace amongst the 
large stones and birch hags, till he was all over bruises, his 
legs severely lacerated, and his clothes torn to shreds ; his 
bonnet and plaid had entirely disappeared. 

He now contrived to get hold of his knife, but it dropped 
in the struggle ; and as the deer still sustained its vigour, 
he had much ado to keep hold of the limb even with both 


his hands. The darkness became deeper as the animal tore 
and strained forward, through the skirts of a birch wood^ 
and both repeatedly fell together. 

Breaking forth again into the open moor, he found his 
weight was beginning to tell on the energy of the stag, so 
that he had power to swing him from side to side, till at 
length, just as they were re-entering the wood, this deter- 
mined bull-dog of a fellow fairly laid him on his broadside, 
and with such force, that the crash seemed to stun him. 

Stripped almost naked as the man was, his shirt and kilt 
torn to tatters, and his hose and brogues nearly gone, he 
still contrived, by means of his garters and shot belt, to 
secure the deer, by binding his hind leg to a birch tree. 
Having accomplished this with great difficulty, he returned 
for his Pun, and thus at lenorth secured his victim. 

If that vast tract of land in the extreme north, designated 
as " Lord Eeay's Country," has produced some wild and 
ferocious characters, it has likewise tempered its romantic 
district by giving birth to a man of no ordinary celebrity. 
Eob Doun, or brown Robert, was born in the heart of it, at 
Durness, in the year 1714 ; and although a distinguished 
bard in his time, would probably have sunk into oblivion 
had he not fortunately been rescued from it by a publication 
of his Poems, and an Essay, prefixed to them, by the Rev. 
Dr. Mackay, minister of Laggan. Rob could neither write 
nor read ; nor was he much of a philosopher : there were no 
academic groves in the wild land of his fathers. " But the 
habits of oral recitation were in vigour all about him," and 
being, by nature, endowed with a rich fancy, and a retentive 
memory, his mind was stored with romantic legends and 
superstitions, which, perhaps, abound more in that district 
than in any other part of Scotland. 

The follow^ing account of this northern bard I have 
extracted from the Edinburgh Review, for July, 1831, wdth 
some variation, however, for the sake of compression : — 

" His witty sayings, his satires, his elegies, and, above all, 
his love songs, had begun to make him famous not only in 
his native glen, but wherever the herdsmen of a thousand 
hills could carry a stanza or an anecdote. Donald Lord 
Reay, a true-hearted chief, resident constantly amidst his 


* children/ and participating in all their affections, presently 
claimed for himself the care of the rising bard of Mackay ; 
and Rob was invested with the office of homan, or head 
cattle keeper, an employment which, at that time, carried 
with it abundance of respect in the eyes of his fellow 

" Rob was an inveterate deer-stalker ; from earliest youth 
it had been his delight to spend days, nights, and even 
weeks among the wildernesses, in pursuit of this spirit- 
stirring diversion ; and, among prouder titles to distinction, 
his kinsmen honoured him as a marksman of the first order, 
and a proficient in the mountain chase. In his boyish days 
no one had ever dreamt of restraining indulgences of this 
kind ; and though now law had been added to law, and 
regulation to regulation, * honest theft is the spoil of the 
wild deer' continued to be a proverb in every mouth, and 
even the hovian of Lord Reay was a constant trespasser ; 
often had he narrowly escaped the arm of the law, and yet 
nothing seemed capable of converting him from his darling 

" He was more than once," says the writer of his memoirs, 
"detected in the forbidden act, and in due time summoned 
before the sheriff-substitute, when, in event of sufficient 
evidence, the issue must have been banishment to the 
Colonies, in terms of the statute. An anecdote on this 
occasion, strongly characteristic of the bard, has been lately 
related to us by his still surviving daughter. He set out to 
attend the court early in the morning, attended by a neigh- 
bour, one of his wonted hunting companions. The prospect 
of transportation pressed heavily on his friend's spirit ; but 
the bard remained seemingly quite tranquil. Not so his 
wife, who, with lamentations and tears, could not be pre- 
vented from accompanying her husband a part of the way. 
The bard would not, even now, part with his favourite rifle, 
but shouldered it at departing with his wonted glee. ' It 
was,' said his dau^rhter, in recitinoj this anecdote in the 
Gaelic ton^jue, ' Bha orunna caol, dubh, fada, mallaicht aifje,' 
that is, a slender, black, long, wicked gun which he had. 
They had not proceeded beyond a mile from home when 
they came full upon a small herd of deer ; Rob was not to 


be restrained. He fired and shot two of them dead upon 
the spot. His wife, before in extreme consternation, was 
not now to be pacified. She imagined that her husband 
had just sealed his doom. He beseeched her to be silent. 
' Go home/ said he, ' and send for them ; if I return not, 
you shall have more need for them ;' but, saluting her, he 
added, in kindlier terms, ' fear not, it shall go hard with 
me if I am not soon with you again to have my share.' 
The truth was, that, though threatened by the authorities, 
there was scarcely one of the country gentlemen who would 
not have gone any length to protect the bard from the 
violence of the law." 

This action, and some satirical ballads written by our 
bard, created a coolness between Rob Doun and his chief ; 
but he obtained protection afterwards in the family of 
Colonel Mackay. 

I conclude this notice with a short extract from one of 
his translated songs, written after a lonor absence from the 
object of his love, who eventually proved faithless : — " the 
home-sickness it expresses appears to be almost as much 
that of the deer-stalker, as of the loving swain." 

"Oh, for the day for turning my face homeward, 
That I may see the maiden of beauty : — 
Joyful will it be to me with thee, 
Fair girl with the long heavy locks I 

Choice of all places for deer-hunting 

Are the brindled rock and the ridge ! 
How sweet at evening, to be dragging the slain deer 

Downwards along the Piper's Cairn ! 

Easy is my bed, — it is easy ; 

But it is not to sleep that I incline : 
The wind whistles northwards, northwards, 

And my thoughts move with it." 

To this account of poachers and freebooters, already I 
fear too long, I venture only to add a notice of a very 
singular trial which took place at Edinburgh, on the 10th 
of June, 1754. 

Duncan Teriof, alias Clerk, and Alexander Bain Mac- 
donald, both notorious poachers, and reputed freebooters, 


were indicted at the instance of His Majesty's advocate, for 
the murder of Arthur Davies, sergeant in General Guise's 
regiment of foot, in the year 1749. The trial, though not 
of an unprecedented nature, involves a very curious point 
of evidence, and was printed in 1831, at the expense of Sir 
Walter Scott, and presented by him to the members of the 
Bannatyne Club. Its circulation being thus limited, I am 
glad of an opportunity of inserting Sir Walter's remarks upon . 
it, which are probably novel to the majority of the public. 

" The cause of this trial," says Sir Walter, " bloody and 
sad enouofh in its own nature, was one of the acts of 
violence which were the natural consequences of the civil 
war in 1745. 

"It was about three years after the battle of Culloden,. 
that this poor man. Sergeant Davies, was quartered with a 
small military party, in an uncommonly wild part of the 
Highlands, near the country of the Farquharsons, as it is 
called, and adjacent to that which is now the property of 
the Earl of Fife. A more waste tract of mountain and bog, 
rocks and ravines, extending from Dubrach to Glenshee,^ 
without habitations of any kind, until you reach Glen- 
Clunie, is scarcely to be met with in Scotland. A more fit 
locality, therefore, for a deed of murder could hardly be 
pointed out, nor one which could tend more to agitate 
superstitious feelings. The hill of Christie, on which the 
murder was actually committed, is a local name, which is 
probably known in the country, though the Editor has been 
unable to discover it more specially, but it certainly forms 
part of the ridge to which the general description applies. 
Davies was attached to the country where he had his 
residence, by the great plenty of sport which it afforded ; 
and when dispatched upon duty across these mountains, he 
usually went at some distance from his men, and followed 
his game, without regarding the hints thrown out about 
danger from the country people. To this he was exposed, 
not only from his being entrusted with the odious office of 
depriving the people of their arms and national dress, but 
still more, from his usually carrying about with him a stock 
of money and valuables, considerable for the time and period, 
and enough of itself to be a temptation to his murder. 


" On the 28fch day of September the sergeant set forth, 
along with a party which was to communicate with a 
separate party of English soldiers at Glenshee ; but when 
Davies's men came to the place of rendezvous, their com- 
mander was not with them, and the privates could only say 
that they had heard the report of his gun after he had 
parted from them on his solitary sport. In short. Sergeant 
Arthur Davies was seen no more in this life, and his remains 
were long sought for in vain. At length a native of the 
country, named M'Pherson, made it known to more than one 
person, that the spirit of the unfortunate huntsman had 
appeared to him, and told him he had been murdered by 
two Highlanders, natives of the country, named Duncan 
Terig, alias Clerk, and Alexander Bain Macdonald. Proofs 
accumulated ; and a person was even found to bear witness, 
that lying in concealment upon the hill of Christie (the 
spot where poor Davies was killed), he and another man, 
now dead, saw the crime committed with their own eyes. 
A girl, whom Clerk afterwards married, was nearly at the 
same time seen in possession of two valuable rings, which 
the sergeant used to have about his person. Lastly, the 
counsel and agents of the prisoners were convinced of their 
guilt. Yet, notwithstanding all these suspicious circum- 
stances, the panels were ultimately acquitted by the jury. 

" This was chiefly owing to the ridicule thrown upon the 
story by the incident of the ghost, which was enhanced 
seemingly, if not in reality, by the ghost-seer stating the 
spirit to have spoken as good Gaelic as he had ever heard 
in Lochaber. 

" ' Pretty well,' answered Mr. Macintosh, ' for the ghost 
of an English sergeant 1' This was, indeed, no sound jest, 
for there was nothing more ridiculous in a ghost speaking a 
language which he did not understand when in the body, 
than there was in his appearing at all. But still the counsel 
had a right to seize upon whatever could benefit his client ; 
and there is no doubt that this observation rendered the 
evidence of the spectre yet more ridiculous ; in short, it is 
probable that the ghost of Sergeant Davies, had he actually 
been to devise how to prevent these two men from being 
executed for his own murder, could hardly have contrived 


a better mode than by the apparition in the manner which 
was sworn to. 

" The most rational supposition seems to be, that the 
crime had come to MTherson's (the ghost-seer) knowledge, 
by ordinary means, of which there is some evidence ; but 
desiring: to have a reason for communicatinor it, which could 
not be objected to by the people of the country, he had 
invented this machinery of the ghost, whose commands, 
according to Highland belief, were not to be disobeyed. If 
such were his motives, his legend, though it seemed to set 
his own tongue at liberty upon the. subject, yet impressed 
on his evidence the fate of Cassandra's prophecies, that, 
however true, it should not have the fortune to be 
believed." * 


Broad Awake. — Arrangements for the Day. — A Ticklish Point. — Serpentine Movements. — 
Disappointment. — White Kid Gloves — Contest of Skill. — Escape of the Deer. — Good 
Sport.— Close Combat.— A Ride on a Stag.— Remarkable Prowess. —Contest with a 
Phoca. — The Drive Begins. — Shots and Untoward Accident. — Corrie's Sagacity and 
Night-Watch. —The Coup d'Essai.— Past Deeds.— Eagles Killed by a Boy.— Driving 
the Herd.— Legend of Eraser's Cairn.— The Lord of Lovat's Raid.— Strong Taint of 
Deer. — Nervous Excitement. — Ambuscade at the Wood. — Noble Sport. — The Old 
Blair Pony. — Return to the Castle. 

" What is a gentleman without his recreations?" 

Cornish Comedy. 

" Jamieson desires me to tell you, sir, that there are three 
fine harts feedinor on the swell of Ben Deris:, hiofh above 
the cottage, and he thinks you had better get up, for it is 
five o'clock." 

" A goodly warning, John ; make ready our breakfast 
immediately, and let the hill-men swallow theirs as quickly 
-as possible. I will call Mr. Lightfoot myself," 

" What ho ! hillo, hillo, comrade 1 Up, up, and be stir- 
ring !" 

* The trial of these men is curious and interesting, but too long for 
insertion in these pages. I have, however, ventured to copy out the 
evidence of the two ghost-seers, which contains the chief points in it, and 
to insert them in an appendix. 


"Eh!— what — where — when? comest thou to draw 
Priam's curtains in the dead of night ?" 

"Night! now by him who sits on high Olympus, — 

' Night's candles are burnt out, and jocund morn 
Sits tiptoe on the misty mountain's top.' 

There are twenty harts cropping the heather bells on the 
Red Mountain, just above the lodge. 

* Falsely luxurious, will not man awake ? '" 

" Oh, as for that, you see, I'm quite alive ; — yaw — yaw ! — 
confoundedly stiff though : I do not think that arque- 
busade of yours is genuine. But you'll give me time to put 
on my clothes, won't you ? and although you dispense with 
sleep, I pray you not to dispense with breakfast. I always 
eat before I go out ; my father and mother did so before me. 
Now here I am, you see, fresh as a lark ; just give me a 
helping hand will you, my good friend ? Thank you : now 
then, on goes my best jacket ; for this day I mean to do * a 
deed of mighty note.' " 

"Bravo! up with you, then, my good fellow, quanto prmid. 
In the meantime, I will go out and examine the three harts.'* 

" Three ! — three harts ! why, thou said'st twenty ere 
now ! " 

" Aye, in buckram : twenty deer, you know, will rouse 
your somnolent man sooner than three : there is a great 
charm in numbers." 

Tortoise clapped on his bonnet, and marched forth with 
his telescope, all unclad as he was, save in slippers and 
dressing-gown. The harts were perused, and found pro- 
digious, of course. A brief toilette — a breakfast short, 
sharp, and decisive, and perhaps a cauker, as the Ettrick 
Shepherd has it. 

All now were ready and about to start, when a hill-man 
came panting in with a letter from the Duke of AthoU con- 
taining instructions for Tortoise to bring down as many 
deer as he could, and to be at the Green Knowes at three 
o'clock, mentioning where he and his parties would be 
posted, and saying that his men would keep them in on the 
west after they had passed a certain point. In the mean- 
time. Tortoise and his friend were to kill what they could. 


This was pleasant news. They had a long day before 
them, and plenty of time for all operations, both private 
and public. 

Now if truth were told, the harts above mentioned were 
on the round even swell of the hill, where it was judged 
very difficult, if not impossible, to come within distance of 
them : " But say nothing of this, Jamieson, we must do our 
best. We will not throw a damp over the chance." 

A stony burn comes down from the mountains near Bruar 
Lodge, which has hollowed out a deep chasm between two 
hills. The eye of no living thing can command this narrow 
pass from the heights above. Up this water-course the 
party proceeded, over fragments of rock, through the 
streams, and little linns, directing their steps towards the 
east, it being judged best to endeavour to come in by a side 
wind from that quarter. They continued to ascend the 
burn for a long time, happy when the disposition of the 
ground permitted them to step out for a space on the 
heather. At length they gained the ascent, and from a 
black bog, which they had entered, discovered with their 
glasses that the deer were still in the same situation. A 
death-like silence took place : the ground was examined 
minutely. Then the glasses were closed, and deep thought 
and care sat on the countenances of the sportsmen. The 
boo: which had hitherto been their cover, terminated lonor 
long before they could get within any reasonable distance 
of the deer, who were, moreover, in a commanding situation. 
The men had observed a ridge of high heather, insufficient, 
they judged, to conceal them ; that, however, must be tried 
as their only chance : the dogs were left in the bog. Light- 
foot's rifle was given to Jamieson, and they crept cautiously 
out of the hole, where they had been skulking. Their caps 
they put in their pockets, and began to writhe themselves 
through the heather like serpents. The ground was dry, 
but the operation was tedious, and even painful, so that 
they took occasional moments of rest. They dared not raise 
their heads ever so little out of the dewy heather, which 
they shaved so closely that there was scarcely a waistcoat 
button left in the party. They strove with their feet, and 
clawed with their hands, still making but slow progress. 


At length their hearts throbbed with nervous excitement, 
for they were fairly within a hundred yards of a long shot. 
For a space they rested to ease their limbs and gain steadi- 
ness, still lying extended like corpses. Tortoise whispered, 
"Now then be calm, and when we come within distance, 
take the hart to the right, — he is the best ; a little further 
and our task is done." 

Twenty yards forwarder they gained in security ; another 
ten with the same success ; — they were getting nearer and 
nearer every moment, and their hearts trembled. There 
was a little knoll, or small rise of ground, before them, 
where the heather grew in larger tufts, and this point once 
gained (of which there was every probability), they would 
be within reasonable distance of as fine harts, they roundly 
-asserted, as any in the forest ; so onward they still crawled, 
with pain and fatigue. 

But if deer-stalking, or any other species of sporting, 
were of easy achievement, what would become of all those 
•delightful changes that animate us in the chase ? no longer 
would our bosDms throb with hope, or sink from an appre- 
hension of, failure ; we should keep " the even tenor of our 
way," tame in pursuit of the quarry ; and, as Captain 
Bobadil has it, " too respectful of nature's fair lineaments." 
Plans well laid and executed, — difficulties overcome by skill, 
by labour, and perseverance, — these are the events that 
flatter our self-complacency, and give the highest zest to 
the sportsman. 

It is the desire to evince this skill, and surmount these 
difficulties, that carries the ardent deer-stalker through bog, 
through burn, up hill, and down precipice ; creeping, wading, 
running, or lying; heedless alike of mire, waters, and 
fatigue : but still with all his caution, even with the most 
consummate generalship, and in the very tumult of expected 
success, — 

" medio de fonte leporum, 

Surgit amari aliquid quod in ipsis floribus angat." 

And if ever a bitter thing did happen, if ever the chalice 
were dashed from the lips, it was at the critical moment 
when we left our sportsmen just within shot of the deer. 
" Tears of compassion tremble on our eyelids," whilst we 


are obliged to recount, that an old chuckling moorcock 
sprung from those very bunches of heather, which they 
vainly thought their haven. 

Oh Puck ! Puck ! why didst thou place that officious 
bird in that particular spot, to scare away the deer ? was 
there no other place in all this wide forest where he could 
set his breast ? A thousand, ten thousand there are, where 
surely he might have been as happy; it was a chance as 
-one to a million : see what a pickle we are in ; mark what 
we have done, what endured ! But thou delightest in 
mischief, and art grinning, I know, thou impious little elf, 
and, inaledetto cite tu sia, wert never better pleased in all 
thy life. The deer, thus warned, broke over the hill, and 
the moor-cock went darting away, turning himself side- ways 
to catch the gale with his wing, chuckling, and rejoicing, as 
it were, in his free flight and the success of his mischief. 
"Now may a dart from Murdoch's quiver pierce thy side 
before night !" 

" Well, it was not our fault, that is some comfort, there 
w^as no kid glove in the matter ; an allusion you will better 
understand, when I tell you that a celebrated sportsman, 
after having made a very long and laborious circuit to come 
into a quiet shot, destroyed his chance, when on the very 
verge of attaining it, by a slight elevation of one of his 
hands which was decked with a white kid glove : it is 
marvellous how^ such a piece of furniture found its way into 
a Scotch forest ; and one is tempted to exclaim, in the 
words of Mrs. Siddons, — ' Hoiv gat it there .?'" * 

The sportsmen arose, and put the best countenance they 
could upon the matter, which, sooth to say, was no better 
than a very doleful one, deadened as their hearts were by 
disappointment. The deer, however, had not seen them, 
and were still in the ground before them. In fact, when 
they came over the hill, they saw them looking back 
jealously in the moss below. 

*I do not vouch for the tale, but it is said that Mrs. Siddons, hearing a 
story about a French official who was locked up in his bureau, being rather 
in an absent mood, fancied that he had been thrust into a chest of drawers, 
and exclaimed, with great pathos, " Poor gentleman ! how gat he there .?" 


" There is no coming down upon them from the hill," said 

" They will no bide there lang," said Jamieson. 

" They are magnificent creatures," said Lightfoot. 

" Shall I lowse a doug ?" said Maclaren. 

" No, that may spoil the drive, for there is no saying 
where a cold hart may go to bay : but stay you here ; we 
will take a long round, and endeavour to get into the burn. 
Give us twenty minutes, and then try to coax them across, 
as near yon curve of the stream as you can. If they move 
forward, we will do so too ; so keep the glass upon us, and 
do your best according to circumstances. — Now look at your 

A long round, and a sharp persevering pace, brought 
them to the destined spot within the allotted time : having 
walked for a space with bent bodies, they sat themselves 
down on a grey stone under the bank of the stream. 
Maclaren now beo-an his game ; entertaininor enough it was 
to see the contest of skill between him and the harts : the 
continual shiftings of the Gael, however, at length gave 
them a slight turn towards the east, and they appeared to 
be coming in a good accommodating direction. But whether 
they got a blink of the men in the burn, or found ground 
more to their liking, they at length kept full to the wind,, 
and went straight south. The moss-troopers had not as 
yet been able to come forward on account of the w^ind ; but 
now that the course of the deer was obviously determined 
upon, they made the best of their w^ay under cover of the 
banks and bogs. All too late they were ; for the harts 
crossed the burn out of distance, but at a slow pace, as they 
saw not the men. 

Maclaren now got as well round to the west as time 
would permit him to do : but it was not this manoeuvre 
that made them again bear a point to the east, for they held 
him particularly cheap ; it was rather the sight of a few 
hinds that had been disturbed from under the crescent of 
Ben-Dairg, and were bearing away towards Cairn-cherie. — 
These they meant to join. 

" This way, this way, Harry, come along, we'll have them 


yet." So saying they strove through the deep channels of 
the peat moss, cowering low, and cutting off the angle with 
all speed, till they got fairly within shot. 

Now^ there is one point in deer-stalking that is the most 
provoking and tantalising thing in the world ; and as it 
happens pretty often, so it occurred in the present instance. 
The riflemen, I said, were within distance : so indeed they 
w^ere ; but the harts skulked up a deep channel in the moss 
in such a way that nothing but the points of their horns 
were to be seen. It was in vain to run after so small a 
parcel ; that would only give them a rapid start, and set 
them clean away at once. Thus not a shot was fired, and 
fortunately no one committed suicide. 

The harts now joined the hinds, and all went slowly up 
the western face of Cairn-cherie. 

As soon as they were all fairly settled in their new 
position, a fresh reconnoissance took place — the deer had 
so taken up their ground that they were not within shot 
either from the top or base of the hill, each of which points 
the riflemen could have gained unseen by them. The party 
went forward to the foot of the hill. 

" Noble fellows ! cunning devils ! what is to be done 
now?" said Lightfoot, "Do you think we shall kill them 
all ? Can you bring us near them in fine style ; cannot we 
come down upon them from the rocks above, and put them 
^11 to sudden death ?" 

" To sudden flight we may easily : but know that there 
is no place in the whole forest so ticklish as this; the 
ground, on the summit, is so varied with high rocks, flats, 
and hollows, that currents and swells of air pass in almost 
^11 directions, and the difficulty will be to get near the 
deer, and keep the wind ; but 1 know the ground well ; 
aye, every inch of it, quite as well as my own cabin at 

" Aye, ye're weel acquent with it, for the beasties ha' bin 
ow'r canny for ye whiles amang thae rocks." 

" Hush, hush, my good fellow, no tales." 

" Na, I canna but say that ye ha' had good sport there 
too, but sure ye'U no be forgettin the big hart that gat a 
gliff o' ye, and skelped awa through the moss, joost as ye 


war thinkin to pit yer ball intill him ; perhaps Mr. Lightfoot 
would like to hear something anent it ?" 

" No, no, Maclaren, I know he would not ; letby-ganes be 
by-ganes. So now tell me, what is your advice ?" 

" Why, I wud ha' ye advised to gang round to the east, 
and to leave me at the f ut o' the hill ; ye can win to the tap 
in ten minutes, and when ye are there, I can pit ower the 
deer. But ye mun be canny, and ye mun aye throw out 
wee bits of tow, for the wind is unco kittle among the 
rocks ; ye'll bear in mind the muckle hart — him that ran 
awa sae brawly frae ye, without skaith, when yer honour 
thoucht to hae takkin his gralloch, and said something 
anent his tallow, and white puddins, and the fat on his 

" You advise well, Maclaren, and your discourse is voluble ;, 
sweet T may not say, since the latter part of it falls some- 
what unseemly on my ear. Now look at your watch, give 
us a quarter of an hour ; start the .deer to the moment, as 
quietly as possible, they will be ready enough to come, 
without compulsion." 

" So here is another of your boggy steeps, — antiseptic no 
doubt ; but I will not be buried in them to try their pro- 
perties : I shall get up capitally." 

" Not if you proceed in that manner, I assure you. This- 
hill is too steep to walk heel and toe ; your style is not 
mechanical: see what a lever you are making use of; just 
stick the side of one foot horizontally against the hill, and 
bring up your other underneath it, keeping the same foot 
always uppermost as I do : see now how compact you go 
without labour, almost without exertion, and certainly 
without the aid of your hands, which you were using 

" Capital ! so I do. Can you also give me any receipt for 

" Only, as I said before, to go as compact as possible ; all 
swinging of the arms, and kicking of the legs behind, is so 
much unnecessary motion, which impedes your progress,, 
worries the whole body, and distresses your wind. But a 
truce to conversation, however agreeable to me : we must 
now proceed in silence." 


Now had they passed the moss, and attained the rocks 
on the summit, and were sittinoj down behind a laro^e block 
of granite ; they laid the rifles on the ground, pulled off 
their caps, and wiped their foreheads — Tortoise held his 
watch in his hand ; it wanted five minutes of the time for 
startinor the deer. A^^ain and a^rain he looked at the slow 
progress of the minute-hand : it was just on the point ; it 
has passed it ; the deer then must be in motion : a short 
space he gave them, to get forward, that he might be secure 
of the wind; then, snatching up a rifle in one hand, 
Jamieson following him with another, he waved his hand 
to Lightfoot, got quickly forward, and clambered up a rock, 
where all posted themselves aloft. 

They had not been in this commanding position five 
seconds before the deer came racinor below them over the 
naked ground, at an easy distance. When Lightfoot saw 
the hinds, who were leadinor, he was in the act of raisin or 
his rifle, but his arm was immediately arrested by Tortoise, 
who continued to hold it with a significant look, but in 
silence. Now came one of the wonderful harts ; he was a 
stupendous animal, very sleek in his coat, and had royal 
antlers ; that is to say, three points on each horn. " Take 
him," said Tortoise, letting go his friend's arm ; " and fire 
well forward." 

The old rocks of Cairn-cherie rang to the rifle sound ; the 
deer slackened his pace, and then stood still. This shot 
had scarcely been fired, before another monster came in 
view. Tortoise levelled; the fatal trigger was pulled, — 
the hart catched his side, stood for a space, and then went 
slowly on with the rest. The third hart swerved a little 
below the hill, and never came within distance. 

" Joy to you, my friend, your deer is safe enough, and so 
is mine, I hope. Lie still, for Heaven's sake, or you will 
spoil all ; he is sick — he is dying !" 

The poor fellow stood for a short space, with his forelegs 
extended ; his knees then bent a little ; his head rose and 
fell alternately for a few moments ; his whole frame quiv- 
ered, and down he sank to eternal rest. The pangs of 
death were brief, but very painful to witness. They now 
went forward, and the knife was plunged into him, when 


his blood gushed out in torrents. A man was left to jzral- 
loch him. Lightfoot could not be torn away from the dun 
beauty : the hill-man, as he gralloched the deer, and drank 
the whiskey, swore there never was such a deer seen in the 
forest ; he grew larger and larger at every quaigh-full, and 
there was no saying to what a portentous size he might 
have arrived, had not the flask been fairly drunk out. 

The rest of the party went slowly forward, till at length 
they saw the other wounded hart lying in a bog. He was 
extended, and kept his head as low as possible; it was 
apparent, then, that he was not only alive, but had his 
senses about him. Tortoise crept cautiously up, and sent a 
ball through the back of his head — as deadly a shot as can 
be made. 

The smile of joy danced on every countenance, but chiefly 
on thine, O Lightfoot; the warm current came tingling 
through your veins : there was a buoyancy of spirit, and 
an air of success about you that proclaimed you a king — 
a hero — a demigod ! Hercules was a pretty fellow ; so was 
Theseus ; so was Pirithous ; but, although they subdued 
various monsters, they probably never killed so fine a stag 
in all their lives. Happy, thrice happy mortal ! happier 
far than Candide, when he met Miss Cunegonde amongst the 
Turks, or (to make a more apt comparison) than our own 
Phidias,* when he killed two woodcocks at one shot. Thou 
shouldst have died that moment, my own hero : alas, why 
did you survive, to pace over geometrical enclosures in pur- 
suit of pigmy game ? But bear thy faculties meekly, whilst 
the deer are being gralloched, and the black flag is hung on 
the bonny antler to scare away the raven. 

" Now, Tortoise, I really think that Macrobius, and the 
rest of Virgil's commentators, are senseless goupies ; for I 
am ready to maintain, in spite of them all, that the slaying 
of such a magnificent animal as this was a very fit cause 
for the Latin war — 

' Cervus erat forma prsBstanti, et cornibus ingens.' 

* Who has not heard of Sir Francis Chantrey's skill with his gun and his 
fishing-rod ? The above incident occurred at a great battue — at the Duke 
of Bedford's probably— and the whole party saluted Sir Francis on the 
occasion with solemn deference, each individual passing before him in suc- 
cession, and making his obeisance. 





(Handling the horns all the while.) But why did you 
throw away a charge upon your wounded deer, who was 
lying extended in the bog, and at your mercy ? I should 
have preferred close combat, like our friend the artist ; I 
would have got across him, and seized him by the horns." 

" In which case you would have had a charming ride, 
like the late Glengarry, or like the forester of the present 
chief of Clanchattan, who, in passing last summer* through 
the forest of Stramashie, near Loch Laggan, descried the 
horns of a stag above the heather at some distance ; and 
taking advantage of the cover of a grey stone on the lee- 
side of the animal's lair, crept cautiously up to him, whilst 
he was apparently asleep. He had no rifle, but opened his 
deer-knife, which he placed between his teeth that his 
hands might be free, and then threw himself suddenly upon 
the stag. Up started the astonished beast, and sprung for- 
ward with Donald on his back, who grasped him with 
might and main by the horns, to keep his seat in a sports- 
manlike manner. No easy matter, I trow, for the animal 
made right down the rugged side of a hill with headlong 
speed, to a stream in the glen below, and dashed through 
it, still bearing his anxious rider with the knife in his 
mouth, which he had neither time nor ability to use. When, 
however, this gallant pair reached the opposite side of the 
glen, and the deer began to breast the hill and relax his 
speed, Donald was enabled so far to collect his bewildered 
senses as to get hold of his knife ; and he absolutely con- 
trived to plunge it into his throat. The deer fell forward 
in the death-struorcrle, and Donald made a summerset of 
course. In consequence of this extraordinary feat, the man 
has been dubbed by the people with a new and appropriate 
name in Gaelic, which my authority (Mr. Skene) told me 
he could not pretend either to write or to pronounce. This 
was dexterous work ; but there are innumerable examples 
of the spirit and determination of Scottish sportsmen : and 
whilst the deer are being gralloched, I may as well relate 
an adventure that happened to a celebrated and enthusiastic 
deer-stalker, whose name I am not at liberty to mention. 

* The summer of 1837. 


" Whilst hunting lately in the island of Jura with his 
deer-hounds (for he seldom carried a rifle), he came rather 
suddenly upon three magnificent stags : he slipped his three 
dogs upon them, and what is very singular, and proves their 
spirit, each of them took a separate deer, and they all went 
in different directions. After a long and arduous pursuit 
over the rouo^h hills of Jura, the stalker* at lenorth o-ot 
sight of one of the deer standing at bay in some long 
heather, in a deep hollow : he appeared to be quite ex- 
hausted ; and the dog Oscar, one of the most powerful and 
intrepid of the breed, was lying within a few yards of him 
apparently done out. As soon, however, as his master 
shouted his name, the gallant brute sprang at the stag's 
throat, and a desperate battle ensued, in which the dog was 
tossed three times in the air before his owner could o^et 
quite up, and was thus severely wounded. 

"When the sportsman, who had only a little herd-boy 
with him, reached the arena, the stag, without attempting 
to make oflT, thrust at them right and left, whirling round 
and round to defeat every attempt to grapple wdth him ; 
the boy had his leg severely lacerated, when the deer- 
stalker, who is a most muscular and powerful man, dashed 
in, and seized the animal by the horns. The contest was 
desperate and doubtful ; at length they both came to the 
ground, when the hunting-knife finished the contest. 

" This same gentleman, whilst shooting sea-fowl, amongst 
the rocks of Colonsay, perceived a large seal basking on 
the shore ; he drew cautiously towards the spot, and gave 
him the contents of his fowling piece, when the seal scuffled 
over the rocks, in his way to his element. -Our enthusiastic 
sportsman sprung from the boat, and, grappling with the 
slippery brute just as he had reached tJie water, plunged 
headlong with him into the sea, where a singular conflict 
ensued, sometimes under water and sometimes in view, 
before the people in the boat could manage to get hold of 
either of the combatants ; at length, however, they suc- 
ceeded in dragging both the young laird and his fat friend 
into the boat, to the great merriment and relief of his 

* It is necessary to be a good stalker in order to lay on the dogs properly. 


companions, — to whose remonstrances he only answered, 
' D — n the brute ! Did he think to give me the go-by ? ' 

" Mr. Skene, who told me this anecdote, was himself the 
prototype of Sir Walter Scott's story of Highland Hector's 
contest with the phoca, in the Antiquary ; having related 
to him on the spot an encounter which he had with seals 
in descending the rocks at Dunotter, in his passage to a 
creek, from whence he proposed to make a sketch of the 

During this relation the hill-man stripped off his grey 
jacket, bared his sinewy arm, and went through the 
necessary operations of bleeding and gralloching. Every 
movement, every finesse was exultingly run over ; — the dogs 
fought ; the men laughed and drank ; and were as cordial 
as success and riojht good Loch Rannoch could make them. 

" But the day wears apace ; we must now separate our 
forces, and if w^e forget not our cunning, we will sweep 
these glens and mountains, and put down such an army of 
deer as shall give free exercise to the rifles from Blair ; their 
volleying shall scare the roe in his secret glade, and visions 
of the magnificent herd shall again warm the imagination 
of the Southron in his festive halls, and great shall be the 
boast of those who were present on St. Crispin's Day." 

" Heyday ! Why you affect to be Ossianic to-day ! And, 
upon my word, what with the mountain air and scenery, 
and the heroic deed I have just done, I tread the heather 
w^ith something of the feeling of a descendant of Fingal 
myself. But, allons, cater we now for the general sport ; 
and here shall end our stalking ; here on the old rocks of 
Cairn-cherie, never to be forgotten, till we depart to where 
Tullus and Ancus have gone before us." 

The party now began to occupy their posts. The riflemen 
remained on the middle hill ; Maclaren was sent across by 
the Craggan-Breach to Sroin-a-chro, and Sandy Macintosh 
to Ben-y-chait. All came forward at the signal, which was 
the exposure of some man's shirt, by means of unbuttoning 
his waiscoat; a luminous mark, that could be readily 
discerned through the telescope, which each man carried 
with him, placed in a leathern case and slung in a belt 
across his shoulders. 


The sport now about to take place, as far as driving 
went, was very similar to that practised in a deer-drive to 
Glen Tile ; but in the termination it differed materially ; 
for instead of runninor the gauntlet as the deer did at Glen 
Tilt, and passing freely onward to the heights of Ben-y-gloe, 
they were, in this instance, to be pressed on to the pine 
wood, that formed the barrier between the mountain slope 
and the cultivated strath of the Tay. This wood was held 
by them a place of refuge ; and when they gained it the 
sport was understood to be terminated, though a hart or 
two might occasionally be killed after their entrance into 
it. These woods are fenced on the moor-side by a stone 
dike, and behind this dike some of the parties that came 
from Blair were posted ; so that the little army of deer 
were thus placed between two fires — that is to say, between 
the rifles of the sportsmen who brought them down from 
the mountains, and those who opposed their passage into 
the wood : thus beset, in front and rear, and at their flanks, 
all their sagacity was called forth ; and their movements 
being more varied, were by so much the more interesting. 
The difficult point was, for those who placed themselves 
in front of the driven deer, to avoid giving them their wind 
prematurely, which might be managed by keeping at first 
to the east and west (the wind being south), and drawing 
towards the centre when time served. 

Let us now see what the hill-men were about. 
After a lapse of about forty minutes the men had arrived 
at the stations above mentioned, and the signal was given 
for starting. There were groups of deer both in Glen Mark 
and Glen Dirie — hinds, calves, and a few harts : very little 
management was required to get these forward, as they 
naturally, and readily, went up wind ; which was all that 
was required of them. So they were urged forward, and 
driven out of the glens, with shouting and hurling of 
stones, which bounded down the precipices with repeated 
echo to the vast depths below. Still, as the men came 
onward, the deer joined their forces, formed, looked back 
calmly, and, as usual, scrutinised every part of the ground 
on their flanks, and on their rear. Tortoise had given up 
all thoughts of manoeuvring any more for himself and his 


friend ; but as he did not seek sport, so he was determined 
not to shun it if it were thrust upon him. And fortune 
(who seldom does things by halves) now placed another of 
her favours in his way. Whether or not he benefited by 
the chance will be seen in the sequel. 

Thus then it was : a few hinds and calves, with a good 
hart amongst them, came rapidly over the shank of the 
hill which he and Lightfoot were descending. The hart 
was generally masked by the hinds ; but as their paces were 
unequal, he was sometimes exposed for a moment. Both 
sportsmen suddenly clapped up the rifles to their shoulders : 
the point Avas too nice a one for ceremon}^ The fatal sound 
of Lightfoot's was first borne along the moor — fatal did I 
say ? fatal to what ? Alas, to the hind that was coming 
up in the rear of the hart ; down she dropped, and her 
maternal cares ceased for ever. In the meantime Tortoise 
kept holding pertinaciously where the hart was, keeping 
his ffun well forward : half of him at leno^th was clear, the 
trigger was instantly pulled, and the ball took effect ; but 
the wounded stag went on behind the others, and the men 
couched down upon the heather blossom. 

And now happened one of those untoward accidents that 
will sometimes occur in spite of ordinary precaution. The 
dogs had been brought forward for the stricken deer ; and 
Corrie, who had a small greyhound-like head, slipped him- 
self from the leash, and away he went on the traces of the 
deer. ISothing could be more agonising, for there was every 
probability that he would put the main herd out of the cast, 
and disappoint all the parties at the wood. But come what 
might, the keen hound was gone forth, and no earthly power 
could arrest him. 

The small parcel that had been fired at joined the great 
herd, full in Corrie's view ; and all disappeared for a while 
in the hollow of a deep ravine, with the dog at their traces. 
But they soon reappeared on the opposite brae, Corrie being- 
still close upon them : every man was absolutely in despair. 
He forced them into a compact mass, ran furiously at their 
rear, then to one flank and then to the other ; and ever as 
he came on, the outward deer endeavoured to wedo^e them- 
selves into the mass out of reach of his horrid fangs. 


There was now no doubt but that the drive would be 
spoiled. Many were the denunciations ao^ainst the appalled 
leashman ; his death-warrant was made out, for he was to 
have no more whiskey, which was precisely the same thing 
to him. 

But, lo ! when all were sinking with apprehension, affairs 
took an almost miraculous turn : after the hound had forced 
the herd in the manner described, missing the taint of the 
blood, he suddenly turned back from them, and came 
feathering along, making beautiful casts to the right and 
left ; returning now to the burn which he had before passed, 
he picked up the lost scent of the blood, and ran rapidly 
down its mazes. Soon the wounded deer sprang up, and 
went heavily before him down the stream ; out at once 
leaped the cunning dog upon the banks, headed him about 
a hundred yards, and then came back in his front, and held 
him resolutely to bay. It was a way he had of shortening 
the business. 

This happy termination was an inexpressible relief to all. 
Tortoise went forward alone, creeping up cautiously by a 
side-wind, and finished him by a shot through the head. 
When the men returned to the hind, they saw the eagle 
sweep down from the clouds, and wheeling over Ben-y- 
venie, descend in all his expanse of wing, and perch himself 
upon the blasted branch of a birch stump that overhung a 
rock in the declivity. There the huge bird sat the whole 
time the deer was being cleaned, gloating over the opera- 
tions, and eager for the bloody repast. As soon as the 
animal should be left on the lonely moor, he thought to 
cower over him, uttering his shrill shrieks, and to plunge 
his beak into the eyes, and pick them from their sockets. 
But the foul bird shall be baulked of his prey. The 
sagacious Corrie shall protect him ; Corrie, who will never 
leave a dead deer without compulsion, but will coil himself 
up by his side, and watch by him during the chill blasts of 
a northern night, guarding him till the hill-man comes in 
the morning to cord him on his sheltie ; then the good dog 
will once more lick over his dun sides, shake his tail, and 
fawn upon the hill-man, and escort him home to the 
slaughter-house. Corrie would do all this as well as the 


rest of his litter ; nay, if he were slipped on the moor, he 
would go back alone to the last deer that was killed, 
although it were many miles distant, and protect it through 
the night from the fox, the wild cat, the eagle, or the raven.* 

All now good-humouredly tried to make out the hind a 
yeld one ; but it would not do ; she evidently gave suck, and 
was also singularly lean. 

" Never mind, Lightfoot ; she richly deserved her fate ; 
for it was a wicked deed to place herself where she did. So 
pray be comforted." 

" No, no, it will not do. The Badenoch fairy's speech 
rings in my ears, saying, or seeming to say, ' O Lightfoot, 
Lightfoot, thou hast this day slain the only maid in Doune.' " 

" Never mind, these things occur to us all ; the hart had 
a very narrow escape from your ball. You heard our friend 
from the south brag the other day how nearly he had killed 
a deer ; and when you asked him in what manner, he replied 
that his ball struck the spot where the deer had been lying 
the day before. You were much nearer than this, you 
know. It was no bad shot after all, and will be of infinite 
service to you as an instruction to take your aim forwarder 
in future. I began my career nearly in the same way, and 
learned a good lesson from it." 

" Then the first deer you killed was a hind ? Well, that's 
.some comfort, however." 

" No, I mistake ; not the first. My coup cVessai was at 
a hart. I set oflT from Blair Castle with the Duke of 
AthoU for Forest Lodge at twenty minutes past three o'clock 
in the morning. There were no deer feeding in the glen ; 
so we breakfasted, and I began fishing for salmon. After 
a time, whilst very intent on my cast, I heard a noise above 
me, and, looking round, I saw a stag running at full speed 
along the slope of the hill, with two lurchers at his heels. 
Quickly did I clamber up the rocks. John Crerer was in 
the road with a rifle ; and, as he was in the act of raisino- it 
to his shoulder, in I came behind, took it from his hand, 
fired, and hit the deer through the jaw. The poor chop- 
fallen fellow then went to bay, where I finished him ; but, 

* A beautiful painting, by Mr. Edwin Landseer, of this sagacious dog, 
thus engaged, will be in the recollection of many. 


to speak the truth, he was altogether as lean, ragged, and 
shabby a beast as I ever saw. If I was not ashamed of him, 
I am a soused gurnet." 

(Maclaren, touching his hat.) " Ye held at better game 
afterwards atween the shank of Ben-y-chait and the El rich, 
when Charlie Crerer was with ye. Ye'U mind when ye 
creepit up to four harts to tak' a quiet shot ; ye got within 
a lang distance, and took the first deer with his braidside 
towards ye as he was feeding, and lying as ye were yoursel* 
all alang in the heather, and the ball passed through his 
heart. And then ye jumpit up, and kilt other twa, ane 
after the ither, as they were skelping awa', and thus we 
got three beasties out of four. They say ye steppit the 
ground after wards, and that the first deer stuid one h under 
and forty yards frae ye. The last must have been an awf u' 

" Aye, Peter ; a true bill that. More by token that ra}^ 
fingers tingle yet with recollection of the hearty Highland 
grip that Charlie gave me when he saw the deed ; for he's 
a fine shot, and a dear lover of the sport himself. But if 
we boast thus of our past deeds, we shall be thought to 
have lost all hope of equalling them in future." 

While thus speaking. Tortoise had been watching the 
villain eagle. How easily, thought he, I could stop thy 
murderous career for ever ! " Now, Jamieson, could I come 
in upon that beastie by sinking the hill, going round by 
the west, and coming up the hollow by a side-wind, whilst 
his keen eye is fixed upon you and the deer ; but the day is 
far on, and we must be true to our time, and yet it grieves 
me, for these eagles are very difficult of approach, even by the 
most skilful sportsman, and it is very seldom one has such 
a good opportunity. Instances of success, however, some- 
times occur ; and the most extraordinary one I ever heard 
of was related to me by my friend Mr. Skene of Rubislaw. 
Listen to ifc, Harry. 

" Whilst staying with his relation at Abergeldie, he met 
a herd-boy coming down the avenue, labouring under the 
burthen of what appeared to be some weighty animal, 
trailing on the ground behind him, and held by a leg over 
each shoulder ; he concluded it was a roe-deer, but found on. 


coming up that the boy (who was only thirteen years old) 
had got two magnificent eagles, which he held by the necks 
over his shoulders, and seemed ready to drop from fatigue. 
" It appeared that young Donald's indignation had been 
roused by having failed a few days before in his attempts 
to defend a lamb which was carried off in spite of him ; 
and many others of his flock had shared the same fate. 
Meditating mortal revenge, he got possession of his father s 
gun by stealth ; and marking the eagles to their eyry, in 
Lachnagan, he hid himself on a rock near the nest, and 
remained there all night. 

" At break of day the male eagle kept hovering about the 
nest, and the boy took a deliberate aim, and brought him 
to the ground. The female soared aloft, and stooped after 
her mate for some time> but out of distance from the boy, 
who, from fear, dared not venture from his hiding-place, as 
his prey still struggled amongst the stones at some little 
distance from him ; at length the female eagle flew off*, but 
soon returned with a lamb in her talons for the supply of 
her young brood. In the meanwhile the determined little 
rogue had reloaded, and watching his time warily, took 
another shot, and with such skill and effect that the female 
fell prostrate and quivering beside her mate ; but the poor 
lamb was killed. Mr. Skene added that he measured the 
birds at the time, but has mislaid the note of the measure ; 
he well remembers, however, Abergeldie's observation, that 
they were the largest birds he had ever seen ; and most 
noble animals they certainly were." 

The whole herd of deer were now belling, and going 
lazily up Cairn-dairg-mor ; and there they stopped, crown- 
ing the hill, and looming large on the sky line. In such 
vast numbers had they collected, that you might have 
fancied yourself with Vaillant in the great hunting-grounds 
of Africa. 

The hill-man to the west had shifted his position much 
farther to that quarter ; and the men were so disposed that 
the deer were kept on the middle hill in a straight line 
with Blair, with the stalkers in their rear. Thus all pro- 
mised well hitherto. Tedious it would be to recount the 
shiftings of the men, which kept the deer in the right 


course. They were all similar to each other, and the process 
was a very simple one. When the herd attempted to swerve 
from the desired direction, the men, who were far distant 
on the opposite hills, had little else to do than to show 
themselves in a line, so as to oppose their passage, dodging 
with them, and taking care not to hurry or press upon 
them rashly. Had they come too near, the herd would 
have swept past them in a moment. 

" We mu^ now keep back," said Tortoise, " for the deer 
are examining the ground on the west, and are in no hurry 
to advance. During this slow operation, I may as well 
give you the history of Eraser's Cairn, which we passed 
the other night, when Peter was so valiant about the laird's 

" Tradition informs us that Lord Fraser of Lovat made a 
raid into the Atholl country, and harried it on his return. 
This raid was of so ruthless a character, that it was probably 
executed in revenge for a similar irruption made by the 
Atholl men on his own demesnes. On the Lord of Lovat's 
return with his plunder, one Donald Fraser, a clansman 
who had acted a conspicuous part in the whole business, 
asked the lord if he did not swear, before ffoinof out, that 
he would leave neither horse, cow, sheep, or cattle, or even 
cocks and hens, in the Atholl country. 'Ye hae done 
brawly,' said he, ' and muckle gear hae we gotten ; but yon 
cock that I heard crowing in the toun below us seems to 
say that the aith is no that completely kept.' 

" Lord Lovat demanded if it were a dunghill cock that 
he heard, or a muir fowl ; and upon hearing that it was the 
former, he replied, ' This must not be ; it is against the aith 
I made ere I set out : get thee doun to the toun, Donald, 
with a party, and put the beastie to death.' 

" Donald did as he was commanded ; but upon his arrival, 
the Atholl men, having had time to assemble, attacked his 
party, and all were soon slaughtered, except Donald Fraser 
himself, who was a powerful man, and fought lustily. He 
was, however, shortly overpowered by numbers ; and they 
proceeded to bind his hands behind his back, that they might 
make use of him as a guide to conduct them to the spot where 
the Lord of Lovat was awaiting the return of his men. 


" Donald, however, by a sudden and violent exertion' 
■contrived to extricate himself from their clutches, and to 
get a start over the moor ; but being encumbered with the 
cords, which were still about him, was almost instantly over- 
taken and slain. 

" A party of the AthoU men then clad themselves in the 
tartans of the men they had killed ; and, easily making out 
the track (for the day was now dawning), followed their 
invaders in a right line, whilst their chief force was kept 
out of sight in the rear. They soon discovered the Frasers 
on a swell of the moor before them, but not on the highest 
point of the ground. They seemed to be regaling them- 
-selves with their booty, whilst their horses were grazing 
around them. 

" The Atholl men now sent their main force to the west- 
ward by the river Bruar, with instructions for them to come 
over the hill in the rear of their foes, and fall upon them at 
a concerted signal. The smaller party, exactly similar in 
number to those that the Lord of Lovat had sent forth to 
kill the cock, clad in their tartans, were mistaken for his own 
men, till of a sudden the w^ild whoop and whistle peculiar 
to the clan in their onsets discovered the fatal truth. The 
foes came upon them at once in their front and rear, and a 
hot conflict ensued. The Lord of Lovat, w^ho was a heavy 
man, was slain whilst calling for his horse. Very few 
escaped the slaughter, and the Atholl men returned 
victorious with the reclaimed booty. The Frasers were 
buried on the spot where the cairn now stands which bears 
their name ; and the country people, who dare approach it 
in the dead of night, assert that they often hear the spirit 
of Lord Lovat calling for his horse — his horse !" 

The deer were now urged on in beautiful style from the 
Beg of Cairn Dairg. It was like the passage of a little 
army as their files drew on ; some were lost in the hollows 
— re-appearing, and again sinking out of sight amidst the 
mazes of the moor. Nothing could be more picturesque 
than their undulating course; — nothing more gratifying than 
to reckon the horns marked firmly on the sky line as they 
passed over the summits. 

One hart there was amongst the rest that might be known. 


from a million. His horns were very white, and his body 
had a tendency to mouse colour ; — sleek and dainty he was 
all over. It was the third hart which had escaped the rifles 
on Cairn Cherie. 

Stop, caitiff, traitor ! — but you may fall yet — 

" Nescis, heu perdite, nescis 

Quern fugias ; hostes incurris dum fugis hostem." 

It is now the appointed time when the parties were 
expected in the wood. It was ascertained by their glasses 
that the Duke's men were properly stationed on Crag 
Urrard ; the drivers therefore continued to get forward the 
herd, which had collected and rested awhile; now they 
crowned the Scalp of Meal-Remahr, and went streaming 
down into the vast basin of Corrie-crombie. Many there 
were who remained on the hill as sentinels ; these, however,, 
joined the rest as Tortoise came on. Maclaren, who was on 
the east, had been strengthened by a force judiciously 
placed by John Crerer ; and the craft now devolved upon 
these men. Tortoise and his friend, not daring to come 
forward, lay down on the heather stumps, conversing in 
scarcely audible whispers. 

" They will pass over Na-Shean-Tulichean, or the green 
knowes which you see before you : how easily could we have 
them by getting a little forward ! But it must not be ; 
here we will abide ; only this : when the great herd have 
fairly passed over the knowes, should some fatigued beast 
bring up the rear, * to stop too fearful, and too fat to go,*^ 
we shall do no mischief if we get on and salute him with 
our rifles." 

" Hist, hist ! by heavens, they are coming ! how strong 
they smell!* They must be very near; I hear their 
trampling. Heaven bless you, keep down ! low — low : do 
not peep ; you will ruin us for ever. Your mouth in the 
heather, if you please : — close — close ; even unto suffbca- 

* A large herd of deer may be smelt at a very considerable distance, 
particularly after they have been much driven. The writer of these pages 
has often been governed in his movements by their taint, when they have 
been below him amongst the steep crags, over which he could not descend 
to look, for fear of not being able to recover his ground in time, and thus 
losing the command of the hill. The taint, though of a different nature, is. 
fully as strong as that of the ground in which sheep have been folded. 


tion," whispered he. " Pray pardon me, my excellent friend; " 
and he pressed Lightfoot's face gently into the bog. 

At this moment the deer began to hesitate ; to look again 
around them, and to consult their leaders before they deter- 
mined upon their course. 

The lying concealed in expectation of a doubtful event, 
and almost within reach of the deer, is one of the most 
nervous situations imaginable. In running with them there 
are various things to distract your attention : caution to 
preserve the wind ; prudence to keep your limbs entire in 
going at the top of your speed down rocky declivities, or 
amongst large stones concealed in the long ling. Even in 
<;reeping for a quiet shot, you are naturally somewhat 
engaged in ejecting the mud from your mouth, deeming it, 
perhaps, unpleasant or unwholesome. There is also a 
sensation when the water enters your shirt breast, which, 
although not novel, may be termed somewhat interesting. 
Thus the care bestowed upon your outward man diminishes 
in some degree the agitation of your mind ; but really when 
you are lying prostrate, in expectation of the deer passing 
without any effort of your own, — when you hear the 
trampling, the rush, and the belling, and all this under 
doubtful auspices, you must be the most odious of all stoics 
if your pulse beats evenly. We are agitated in such a case 
— tremendously agitated, we own : our heart trembles 
within us ; our breath comes short ; and the whole goddess 
-Diana possesses us. Let those who have cold blood pride 
themselves on it when they need, and where they need — 
not now. 

See the noble herd are come in view ! Na-Shean 
Tulichean never bore upon his green swells a prouder 
burthen. The antlers rise and sink over its heights ; the 
hinds and calves pass belling along, whilst we (practising, 
at least for once in our lives, the virtue of forbearance) feel 
all the torments that the fabled and thirsty sinner felt as he 
caught at the flying waters. Yes, the fable may be told of 
us, and that somewhat to our credit. 

And now the great bulk of the herd had passed over the 
knowes, and were out of sight; still they came on in num- 
bers ; but ever as they passed the antlers grew scarcer and 


scarcer. Tortoise pressed the arm of his companion in 
silence ; at length he removed his hand. 
" Now, then, all is safe ; follow me." 
He sank out of sight over the hill to the west with rapid 
foot and bent body, and then came in more southwards, 
within shot of the tail deer, when both sportsmen knelt 
down on the heather. As the hinds came on, an anxious 
look was sent to the rear in hopes to descry the points of 
an approaching antler. At length the horns actually did 
appear; and Lightfoot, all trembling with eagerness, was 
clapping his rifle to his shoulder, when Tortoise stayed him, 
whispering in his ear, "A worthless beastie, my good fellow, 
let him pass : remember the four-year-old — the enormous 
monster — the haud credo : this is a twin to him." But 
nothing better came on — nought but rubbish. So not a shot 
was fired. 

They now gave them a little time to get on, and then 
peeped through the heather-tops at the slope of the green 
knowes. There they saw the vast herd below them, which 
had kept increasing their forces as they passed the lower 
grounds. There might have been some four or five hundred 
of them altogether. 

The deer now began to form into a more compact body. 
Some looked back, some towards the slaps in the dyke, 
others to the east and west. Now they drew up on an 
eminence to the east : they longed for the security of the 
woods, but were afraid to venture. Sometimes they were 
about to break to the west, some on the opposite quarter ; 
but at every point they met with opposition. At these 
critical moments, various were the pushes made by the 
sportsmen in the rear to each flank of the green knowes 
in accordance with their motions. Still as they ran they 
were concealed under the rising ground. Pressed on their 
Hanks, and alarmed on their rear, the woods seemed the 
only refuge for the herd ; and a long string of harts and 
hinds raced away within shot of some stone dyke that 
bounded them ; the rest of the body lingered behind, as if 
to ascertain how the experiment would succeed. 

Now began the din of arms : two rifle shots echoed 
through the hollow woods, and two noble harts bit the 


dust. " That must be the Duke's deed ; it is his Grace's 
usual station; besides it was done so cleverly." Other 
shots followed, more or less successful, which turned the 
leaders, and those that came up in the rear sprung high in 
the air over their fallen comrades, wheeled back, and all 
again assembled on the flat ground. They now knew that 
th6y were beset on all sides, and soon came to a decision. 
The hinds had hitherto taken the lead ; but, pressed as they 
now were, a more undaunted chief took the command. 
Stern and determined, a magnificent hart stepped forth 
from the ranks, and stood singly for a space in all his vast 
proportion : he towered above the herd, as the Satan of 
Tasso above the infernal host — 

" Si la gran fronte, e le gran corna estolle." 

For a few moments he shifted his gaze from man to man-; 
then he made a desperate charge, followed by the rest of 
the body. It was evident now that they were breaking 
out in the west ; they all swept round behind a low rise of 
ground, in that quarter," at the top of their speed. 
" Now then, Harry, run low, and do your best." 
Down he and Tortoise came upon them, and arrived just 
in time for the middle of the herd. Two fine harts fell to 
their rifles. And again, as they raced by the peat-stacks, 
another party fired upon them ; and they came so close to 
the hill-men that they flung their sticks at them, and had 
they not given way, would have trampled them to the earth. 
They now broke back over the moor, and were no longer 
thought of. It would have required much skill and many 
hours to ffet the wind of them ao^ain. 

" Well, this is a noble day's sport ; but you must say 
nothing about the hind at the castle, Maclaren. To be sure, 
she will be seen to-morrow at the slaughter-house, and, no 
doubt, she will have companions of the same gender ; but 
sufficient for the day is the evil thereof ; and, indeed, it is 
of no consequence, for she will make soup fit for the supper 
of LucuUus, — if you know who he was, Peter ? " 

* This swell of ground is very low, and not far from the wood, and insuf- 
ficient to mask the deer entirely. I often thought it might be possible to 
use it to advantage, and now tried it for the first time. 


" No, I do not ; — was he a Badenoch man?" 

" Not exactly ; nor had he Badenoch cooks that I ever 
heard of." 

The parties now met, and exchanged greetings and con- 
gratulations. There were six first-rate harts slain at the 
wood, and two lesser harts and two hinds at the peat-stacks. 
The Duke of Atholl's deer (he had shot three in all) were 
the largest ; for he had ever a quick eye, and an amazing 
tact in selecting his quarry. One of these was lying on the 
moor unable to rise, but still alive. It proved to be the 
large mouse-coloured hart which had escaped the stalkers 
at Cairn Cherie, and whose fate had been prophesied. A 
hill-man, unaccustomed to treat with such dangerous ani- 
mals, went up to him and seized him by the horns without 
ceremony. -In evil deed it was for him ; for the stag, toss- 
ing up his head, cut him with one of his brow antlers 
between the eyes, dividing the flesh up his forehead, and 
giving him a frightful wound. The poor fellow ran up to 
the Duke, and saying, '' Yon was an unco crabbed beast," 
fell senseless at his feet. He soon recovered himself, how- 
ever, and was kindly administered unto, — the men deluging 
his wound with whiskey, which they esteemed a sovereign 
remedy for all evils under the sun. 

Ponies had been kept in readiness to take home the deer ; 
they were a hardy race, redundant in mane and tail, and 
contemners of the bridle. Amongst these was one known 
by the name of " Old Blair Pony," who had always the 
honour of bringing home the Duke's deer. It was an office 
he delighted in ; and he was wont to evince his sense of 
pleasure by rubbing his muzzle in the blood, and by towz- 
ling the beast, as Squire Western has it. 

Two or three sportsmen discharged their rifles at the 
gillies' bonnets, at the distance of a hundred paces, the 
gillies wisely pulling them oflT and planting them in the 
heather, and not standing the shot themselves, as did the 
Gown-cromb of Badenoch. The light infantry galloped 
home on their ponies ; then followed the shelties, each with 
a hart corded on his back, with the head and horns upper- 
most: these were attended by a group of hill-men and 
gillies, in their kilts and plaided tartans ; some urging on 


the ponies with Gaelic admonitions, others holding the 
rough lurcher in the leash, and tugging him back rudely as 
he tried to get a lick of the blood-stained deer. Thus they 
passed merrily through the storm-beaten forest, winding 
over the bridges, the dark torrent of the Banavie brawling 
and toiling below them. 

May they enjoy the right good cheer and merry dance 
that always awaited them at the castle ! 

Eight harts slain at the wood, and two at Cairn Cherie. 
By the rood, it was a sufficient work ; though the sport had 
occasionally been much more ample.* 


Original Scotch Greyhound.— Fingal and his Retinue.— Bran and Phorp.— Their Death.-- 
The Lurcher —Glengarry's Dogs.— Of Blooding Deer-hounds.— Four-footed Hannibal. 
—Sir William St. Clair's Dogs. 

*' Syr, yf you be on huntynge found, 
I shall you gyve a good greyhounde, 

That is dunne as a doo ; 
For as I am a trewe gentylwoman, 
There never was deer that he at ran, 
That myght yscape him fro'." 

Sir Eglamore. — Metrical Romance. 

The best sort of dog for chasing the deer would unquestion- 
ably be the original Scotch or Irish greyhound ; but of this 
noble animal I shall myself say nothing, being enabled, 
through the kindness of Mr. Macneill of Colonsay, to 
introduce amongst these pages a dissertation on their race 
and qualities, put together by him with great research and 
ability, and accompanied by a recital of a day's deer coursing 
in the island of Jura. All accounts I have received from 
Scotland represent these dogs as very scarce at the present 
day ; and I am informed that in Sutherland the last of the 
race in that particular district was a very powerful animal 

* It may appear, perhaps, that in the account of this day's drive and the 
former one, the lion's share of the sport is given to the stalker. It must 
be remembered, however, that those who go round with the drivers have 
necessarily the greatest number of chances. Hence Tortoise's success. 


belonging to the late Mr. Gordon of Achness. He was 
killed by a stag about forty years ago, who transfixed him 
with his antlers against a rock, leaving three deadly wounds 
on his body. 

The traditions of that country have handed down stories 
to us that prove the great estimation which dogs were held 
in at very remote periods. One of these traditions, which 
was current ages before Macpherson's publication, runs as 
follows : — 

Fingal agreed to hunt in the forest of Sledale, in company 
with the Sutherland chief, his contemporary, for the purpose 
of trying the comparative merits of their dogs. Fingal 
brought his celebrated dog Bran to Sutherland, in order to 
compete with an equally famous dog belonging to the 
Sutherland chief, and the only one in the country supposed 
to be any match for him. The approaching contest between 
these fine animals created great interest. White-breasted 
Bran was superior to the whole of FingaFs other dogs, even 
to the " surly strength of Luah." But the Sutherland dog, 
known by the full sounding name of Phorj), was incom- 
parably the best and the most powerful dog that ever eyed 
a deer in his master's forests. 

When Fingal arrived in the forest with his retinue and 
dogs, he was saluted with a welcome that may be translated 
thus : — 

" With your nine great dogs, 
With your nine smaller, game-starting dogs, 
With your nine spears — 
Unwieldy weapons ! 

And with your nine grey sharp-edged swords, 
Famous were you in the foremost fight." 

The Sutherland chief also made a conspicuous figure 
with his followers, and his dogs and weapons for the chase. 
Of the two rival dogs. Bran and Phorp, the following 
descriptions have still survived amongst some of the oldest 
people in Sutherland. Bran is thus represented : — 

The hind leg like a hook or bent bow, 
The breast like that of a garron,''^ 
The ear like a leaf. 

* A stout gelding. 


Such would Fingfal, the chief of heroes, select from amongst 
the young of his hunting dogs. 

Phovp was black in colour, and his points are thus 
described : — 

" Two yellow feet, such as Bran had ; 
Two black eyes, 
And a white breast ; 
A back narrow and fair, 
As required for hunting ; 
And two erect ears of a dark brown red." 

Towards the close of the day, after some severe runs, 
which, however, still left the comparative merits of the two 
dogs a subject of hot dispute, Bran and Phorp were brought 
front to front to prove their courage; and they were no 
sooner untied, than they sprang at each other, and fought 
desperately. Phorp seemed about to overcome Bran, when 
his master, the Sutherland chief, unwilling that either of 
them should be killed, called out, " Let each of us take 
away his dog." Fingal objected to this; whereupon the 
Sutherland chief said, with a taunt, that "it was now 
evident that the Fingalians did not possess a dog that could 
match with Phorp." 

Angered and mortified, Fingal immediately extended 
"his venomous paw," as it is called (for the tradition 
represents him as possessing supernatural power), and with 
one hand he seized Phorp by the neck, and with the other, 
which was a charmed and destructive one, he tore out the 
brave animal's heart. 

This adventure occurred at a place near the march, 
between the parishes of Clyne and Kildonan, still called 
Leck-na-con, the Stone of the Dogs, there having been 
placed a large stone on the spot where they fought. The 
ground over which Fingal and the Sutherland chief hunted 
that day is called Dirrie-leck-con. Bran suffered so severely 
in the fi^rht, that he died in Glen Loth before leavinof the 
forest, and was buried there. A huge cairn was heaped 
over him, which still remains, and is known by the name 
of Cairn-Bran.* 

* Mr. Grant of Corrymony, in his work on the Gael, relates a tradition 
somewhat similar to the above, and which may have been drawn from the 
same sources ; but it differs from it in stating that Bran was the victor, 
and in the omission of his death. 


Not being in possession of any of the celebrated race of 
the original Scotch greyhound, which are now, indeed, very 
rare, and finding that all the dogs in the forest of AthoU 
were miserably degenerate, I bred some litters from a fox- 
hound and a greyhound, the foxhound being the father. 
This cross answered perfectly : indeed, I was previously 
advised that it would do so by Mr. John Crerer, who, after 
having tried various crosses for sixty years, found this 
incomparably the best. Neither of these animals themselves 
would have answered ; for the greyhound cannot stand the 
weather, and wants courage to that degree, that most of 
them will turn from a fox when they come up to him, and 
see his grin, and feel his sharp teeth ; nay, they will scarcely 
go through a hedge in pursuit of a hare till after some 
practice. Besides, they have no nose, and run entirely by 
sight; so that when the hart dashes into a deep moss or 
ravine, the chase is over, and the dog stops, and stares about 
him like a born idiot as he is. 

The foxhound is equally objectionable ; he has not suffi- 
cient speed, gives tongue, and hunts too much by scent : 
in this way he spreads alarm through the forest; and if 
you turn him loose, he will amuse himself all day long, and 
you will probably see him no more till he comes home at 
night to his kennel. 

All these objections are obviated by the cross between 
the two. You get the speed of the greyhound, with just 
enough of the nose of the foxhound to answer your purpose. 
Courage you have in perfection, for most dogs so bred will 
face anything ; neither craggy precipices, nor rapid streams, 
will check their course ; they run mute, and when they are 
put upon the scent of the hart, they will follow it till they 
come up to him ; and, again, when he is out of view, they 
will carry on the scent, recover him, and beat the best 
greyhound to fits : I mean, of course, on forest ground. 

The present Marquis of Breadalbane had two dogs of 
this description, Percy and Douglas, which were bred by 
me. As they were my very best upon scent, I gave the 
late Duke of Atholl the use of them every season, to bring 
cold harts '*' to bay, in which they were wonderfully success- 

* A cold hart means one that has not been wounded. 


ful ; for if they were fairly laid on, no hart could escape 
them. They are now nine or ten years old ; and his lordship 
informs me they are still able to bring the stoutest hart in 
his forest to bay, and are altogether perfect. 

These dogs, in point of shape, resemble the greyhound ; 
but they are larger in the bone, and shorter in the leg: 
some of them, when in slow action, carry their tails over 
their backs, like the pure foxhound. Their dash in making 
a cast is most beautiful ; and they stand all sorts of rough 

As the above is, I think, the best cross that can possibly 
be obtained for the modern method of deer-stalking, so it 
should be strictly adhered to : I mean that, when you wish 
to add to your kennel, you must take the cross in its 
originality, and not continue to breed from the produce 
first obtained ; for if you do this, you will "soon see such 
alarming monsters staring around you, as the warlike 
Daunia never nourished in her woods and thickets, or as 
cannot even be surpassed by the sculptured ones at the 
villa of Prince Palagonia, near the shores of Palermo. 

The late celebrated sportsman. Glengarry, crossed oc- 
casionally with a bloodhound instead of a foxhound : his 
famous dog Hector was probably bred in this way; and 1 
believe Maida, the dog he presented to Sir Walter Scott, 
had also a distant cross of the bloodhound in him. Two of 
these small bloodhounds he generously gave to me, though 
he was chary of the breed ; but they ran away from my 
kennel, and were unfortunately lost. 

A cross with the bull-dog was once tried in the forest of 
Atholl, to give courage ; but the produce was slow, as might 
have been expected ; and the thing was overdone, for they 
all got killed by attacking the deer in front. High-couraged 
dogs, indeed, of every breed, are subject to accidents : they 
get wounded, and even killed, by the harts ; are maimed 
for life, or meet their death by falling over precipices in 
their reckless pursuit, particularly in rounding a corner. 

It is very seldom that the deer themselves suffer from 
precipitous falls, being well acquainted with their ground, 
and studious in selecting it. Once, however, when I was 
out, it happened that a hart, being wounded by me, and 


chased by one of my hounds, came to a very high and steep 
declivity by the river Mark, not far from Glen Tilt. Being 
pressed closely by the dog, he went down it upon his hind 
quarters, preserving his position in the rush in a most 
wonderful manner, at a time when I expected he must 
have fallen headlong, and met with inevitable and instant 
death. The dog just saved himself in the scramble, and 
had barely power to draw back, pausing for a moment at 
the edge of the precipice, with his fore legs extended, and 
horror in his looks. The hart was not dead, though terribly 
mangled. I got to him with difficulty, by going some little 
distance round, and swinging down from rock to rock by 
means of the impending birches. 

For my own sport I seldom turned my dogs loose after 
cold harts, only doing so when I was endeavouring to bring 
such to bay for the Duke of Atholl's sport. Thus being 
put upon the scent of wounded deer only, they stuck to the 

The hill-man or gillie who leads the dogs should be a 
very steady clever fellow, and, moreover, a strong man ; for 
the dogs are so eager and powerful, that he who has them 
in the leash is frequently pulled head over heels, when he 
runs down hill with them. All their tackle should be 
strong, and regularly inspected every morning, lest the dogs 
should break loose, disturb the cast, and ruin your sport 
for the day. Guard against all carelessness of this sort. 

The dogs should be led about a hundred yards behind 
the deer-stalker ; and the leash-man should stop when he 
stops, and stalk him as he stalks the deer. Should the 
herd come in sight, he had better get them to lie down in 
a hole if possible, and put his handkerchief over their eyes, 
or they will be apt to struggle or whine, and do irreparable 
mischief. After the shots are fired, it is the man's duty to 
run up with them in the leash, some few degrees quicker 
than the American vessel, which was unsuccessfully chased 
by a flash of lightning. He then gives them up to the 
forester, who lays one of them on, if there is occasion ; one 
good dog being quite sufficient to bring a wounded hart to 

It may sometimes be requisite to slip a dog immediately : 


for instance, if a hart is shot through the loins he will fall 
prostrate, spring up again suddenly, and baffle a good dog 
afterwards. There are certain other cases also when 
despatch is necessary ; but, generally speaking, it will be 
prudent to take time ; and the party had much better lie 
down in the heather, and keep an eye on the wounded deer 
through the telescope. If he is slightly wounded, it is of 
no use to send a dog after him at all, unless he is alone ; for 
he will get into the middle of the herd, and keep there with 
enduring pertinacity ; and the thing will just end by your 
losing him, and bringing a singularly lean hind to bay ; 
throwing away, by a moderate computation, two or three 
precious hours, and with them, perhaps, your remaining 
chance of sport for the day : but, on the contrary, if he is 
badly wounded, and you do not press him on, he will 
gradually get worse and worse, and fall out from the parcel, 
when you will have him safe enough. The forester should 
then pass the track or taint of the herd, and either lay the 
dog on the scent, or put him in sight of the quarry, and he 
will soon bring it to bay, if he is worthy of his ancestors. 
But I have touched upon this subject before. 

Some sportsmen are accustomed to give their dogs 
portions of the deer's liver when he is gralloched ; but, 
after having blooded them once or twice, to enter them, 
I do not think the custom should be continued, a dog's 
love for sport being independent of eating ; for pointers 
will hunt gallantly all day long, and they are never per- 
mitted to touch their game, nor even to run after it. 
Harriers, likewise, will persevere from morning till night, 
and yet the hare is always preserved for the table, if 
possible, — more particularly in a subscription pack. 

My objection to the system lies principally in the two 
following reasons : the first is, that a dog can never run 
a second chase properly after having been so fed ; the 
second, that when he has a deer in a wounded and dying 
state, he is apt to help himself from the haunches before 
you have time to come up. A lurcher once damaged my 
sport in this villainous manner. I had wounded a deer 
which came out unexpectedly from Glen Croinie, against 
my wind, during a heavy mist. A dog was slipped and 


laid on the scent. For a long time, we could neither hear 
nor discover the bay: at length we came suddenly upon it, 
if bay it might be called. The dog had taken steaks from 
the living haunches, after the fashion of Abyssinia, and 
was already amazingly turgid. His name was Hannibal. 

" Expende Annibalem, quot libras in duce summo 

I gave him a pretty considerable drubbing for this his 
luxurious propensity ; but even under the lash, it was some- 
time ere 

" La bocca sollev6 dal fiero pasto 
Quel peccator." 

After this perpetration, I changed his name, by a very 
easy transition, from Hannibal to Cannibal ; but Hannibal 
or Cannibal, I never suffered him to pass the Scotch alps 
with me a second time. 

There is an interesting story mentioned in the notes of 
the " Lay of the Last Minstrel," taken from a manuscript 
" History of the Family of St. Clair," which is so apposite 
to this subject, that I cannot forbear transcribing it. 

It seems to prove that the chief reliance for sport was 
formerly placed in the dogs, who were accustomed to pull 
down and kill deer without any aid from the huntsmen ; 
and that nobles, and even kings, prided themselves upon 
the fleetness and courage of their hounds. 

" King Robert Bruce," says Augustin Hay (canon of St. 
Genevieve), " in following the chase upon the Pentland 
Hills, had often started ' a white faunch deer,' which had 
always escaped from his hounds ; and he asked his nobles, 
who were assembled around him, whether any of them had 
dogs which they thought might be more successful. No 
courtier would affirm that his hounds were fleeter than 
those of the king, until Sir William St. Clair of Roslin 
unceremoniously said, that he would wager his head that 
his two favourite dogs 'Help' and 'Hold' would kill the 
deer before she could cross the march-burn. The king 
instantly caught at the unwary offer, and betted the Forest 
of Pentland-Moor against the life of Sir William St. Clair. 
All the hounds were tied up, except a few ratches, or slow 


hounds, to put up the deer ; while Sir William St. Clair, 
posting himself in the best situation for slipping his dogs, 
prayed devoutly to Christ, the blessed Virgin, and St. 
Katherine. The deer was shortly after roused, and the dogs 
slipped, Sir William following on a gallant steed to cheer 
them. The hind, however, reached the middle of the brook, 
upon which the hunter threw himself from his horse in 
despair. At this critical moment, however, Hold stopped 
her in the brook ; and Help coming up, turned her back 
and killed her on Sir William's side. The king, descend- 
ing from the hill, embraced Sir William, and bestowed on 
him the lands of Kirk ton, Loganhouse, Earncraig, etc., in 
free forestrie." 

The tomb of this Sir William St. Clair, on which he 
appears sculptured in armour, with a greyhound at his feet, 
is still to be seen in Roslin chapel. 


Occupation of Forest Lodge.— Autumnal blasts.— Sullen fuel.— The sport begins.— Deer 
stalker distressed.— A sharp walk.— Lying in ambush.— The fatal spot reached. — 
Herd in jeopardy.— Peter Fraser's humanity.— His penmanship.— The lament.— 
The moors. 

** Farewell to the Highlands, farewell to the north, 
The birthplace of valour, the country of worth : 
Wherever I wander, wherever I rove. 
The hills of the Highlands for ever I love." 

A. Macdonald. 

I HAVE elsewhere observed, that I have forborne to recount 
my most successful days on the hills, as not always being 
fraught with any very marked interest; I now, however, 
proceed to relate the events of one auspicious day, which, 
as it was my last, so it was, perhaps, my best. It will prove 
that the method of stalking deer in quick time, where the 
forest is sufficiently extensive to admit of such .sport, is 
frequently accompanied by the most abundant results. 
Three or four skilful attendants you must have for this 


purpose : one to assist you in stalking and carrying the 
spare rifles ; two more to coax the deer towards you, that is, 
one on either flank, at vast distances ; and another to hold 
the dogs. This is generally a sufficient force for the Forest 
of Atholl ; but a fifth man would be useful in a west wind, 
to leave at the mouths of the glens, and keep the deer from 
going north, which they are apt to do at such a time. 

The Duke of Atholl and the shooting parties had all left 
Blair, and the occupation of the forest was indulgently 
given to the writer of these pages, accompanied with the 
most pleasant of all commissions; namely, that of an 
injunction to kill as many harts as possible, and to take 
possession of Forest Lodge, the best situation for sport in 
the whole domain. Captain Stewart of Murthly, an active 
and skilful deer-stalker, had permission to take two or 
three days' diversion from his quarters at Blair ; but, as 
better sport might be expected in Glen Tilt, Tortoise took 
the liberty of asking him to repair to Forest Lodge, and he 
came accordingly. It was arranged over-night, that the 
Captain should take the cast east of Glen Croinie, which had 
not been disturbed for a long time, and that his friend should 
occupy the ground on the west of it. 

The season for deer-shooting was now nearly terminated, 
and the brightness of the autumnal days had suffered some 
diminution. The sun withdraws its beams from the 
secluded Glen of the Tilt early in the evening, and returns 
only in partial gleams, till the day is spread in full splendour 
on the summits. Thus the air there is dank and chill ; the 
leaves soon fall from the old weather-beaten birches, and 
here- and there they already stood amongst the grey rocks, 
in all the nakedness of winter. Some, in more sheltered 
spots, perhaps, retained their leaves longer, half withered as 
they were, and shivering in the bitterness of the blast. The 
weather was soon expected to break up, and the silence of 
the great waste to be followed by the howling of the storm 
and the roaring of the cataract. 

It was in this dubious season that our sportsmen were 
stationed in Glen Tilt: as they pass the night in the com- 
fortable tent beds, the peats just expiring on the hearth- 
stone, they hear, amid broken slumbers, the wind rushing 


-along in fitful gusts, and the rain drops striking fiercely 
against the panes of the casement ; shortly, perhaps, they 
cease ; the moon flashes out for awhile, and her light strikes 
clear against the furniture of the little chamber ; then the 
black clouds hurry along, blot out her orb, and leave the 
cottage and glen in darkness and in mystery : thus the night 
wanes ; and amid these contentions of nature, the blustering 
waters of the Tilt sound loud and continuous : their voice 
may be somewhat smothered for the moment by the noise 
of the wind ; but, in proportion as that abates, the eternal 
roar of the torrent swells forth again in all its turbulence. 

At length the morning began to dawn, and Tortoise went 
forth, and paced about the Lodge, that he might endeavour 
to satisfy himself as to the weather. The wind was still 
fair; but the air was raw and wintry, and a thick vapour 
rested upon the mountain ranges. Well, that might pass 
away : — and now for the morning meal. Who can tell how 
often the bellows was applied to the sullen fuel, and how 
reluctant the peats were to confess the slightest capacity 
for a flare-up ? At length, after much coaxing and perse- 
verance, behold a faint ignition ; thus things began to 
brighten, and breakfast was soon put upon the table, warm 
and redundant. But the less we say about the viands the 
better ; we are rather shy of mentioning such things in 
detail. We should despair, indeed, of making ourselves 
understood as to the extent to wdiich the principle of eating 
may be carried on by the minions of the mountain. 

We may be allowed to hint our opinion, however, that 
those were rational times, when maids of honour drank 
ale and ate chines of beef at sunrise, with true feminine 
alacrity. Well, let this pass. Our temptations were 
vehement, w^e own, but we do not say we indulged them ; 
and, having before discussed this subject, it does not become 
us to resume it. We are already on our shelties, replete or 
empty, it matters not. 

And now the ponies plant their feet heavily, and go 
winding and tugging up the mountain. Captain Stewart 
strikes off* with his men to the right. " Good sport to you. 
Captain, and a steady hand !" 

Tortoise aspires at once to reach the nearest sky-line ; the 


bogs soon become deep, and the pony is sent back to the 
regions below. Onward he strides on foot, lessening to the 
sight by degrees, till he is dimly seen from the glen, and 
soon entirely lost in the mountain mist. As no operations 
can be carried on during such an impediment to the view, 
the party sit down in a little hollow near the summits, 
where a small burn creeps lazily through the mosses. But 
the vapours rise speedily, and form into small clouds,, 
that begin to dapple the distant mountain-peaks : onward 
move the party cheerily ; the day promises fairly ; the wind 
is propitious : Care sails scowling with her hollow eyes^ 
through the vapour, and leaves our riflemen with the com- 
fortable prospect of a fair field for operations. 

The sport began unexpectedly ; for a few deer, that could 
not be seen during the mist, broke out suddenly from a hol- 
low towards the east, at the back of the Grianan-Moir, and 
raced away towards Cairn-chlamain. They were at an 
awful distance ; but as the course of the leading ones was 
decided, and the tail ones in the hollow were out of sight of 
the rifleman, he made a dash forward, and thus gained con- 
siderably upon the spot of their crossing ; so that when these 
latter began to appear, he took a long shot at a hart, which 
was evidently struck by the ball. 

" Never heed him, Peter ; forward, forward, man." 

" Why, sure, then, we mun stop and tak' tent o' the 

" No, no ; no such thing. Here, Maclaren, take Percy ; 
run forward, and hold the deer at bay. Come along, Peter, 
more deer will join them, and we shall have them again as 
they come out of the mouth of Glen Croinie." 

Away they dashed at the top of their speed, at least Tor- 
toise most assuredly did so ; but as he made " gallant show 
and promise of his mettle, so, like a deceitful jade, he sank 
in the trial." What, dead beat ! He whom Maga in former 
times, and in her flattering mood, extolled for feats on river, 
mountain, lake, and moor ; he dead beat ? Alas ! yes, most 
certainly, most undeniably so, and blowing like a grampus. 
The way was short : but what will not pace effect ? Some 
how or another, however, he held on without being much 
the worse for it. 


Thus he contrived to reach the mouth of the glen in 
piteous plight, and something in the attitude of the Aus- 
trian spread eagle, just as the tail deer were sinking the 
hill down to the culreach. A shot was fired, and it was 
fortunately a clean one : a fine stag fell dead on the spot. 

" Now halt, my good fellows, and let us watch the deer." 

They saw them pass over the hill to the west, and lost 
them for some time in the glen below. At length they 
<!rossed the river Mark and re-appeared, ascending the 
opposite mountain just south of Cairn-cherie ; slowly did 
they climb the brae, and, being completely tired, lay down 
•on the moss some way up the hill. 

" Very well, gentlemen, we will talk to you by and bye." 

" Now, Fraser, whilst Sandy is gralloching this deer, do 
you go and seek the bay of the other." 

Nor was this trouble a toilsome one, for Percy held at 
him in the moss under the grey stones of Cairn- Chlamain ; 
and a ball was soon sent through his head. 

" Now, then, take up the rifles, lose no time, and follow 
me, Peter." 

" Why, what can we do ? thae beasties are in sight o' 
a' the glen, and we canna pass the Mark burn at ony gate." 

" It will be a long round, and a toilsome one ; but you did 
not get your bonny wife, you know, Peter, by means of a 
faint heart. Here, Maclaren, do you remain on this brae 
{they had advanced some way), and when with your glass 
you see us fairly above the deer, wait for our signal ; 
we will draw breath a space before we give it. But when 
you do see it, put the deer over to us in your very best 
style. Now, Fraser, hard work as it is, this is our only 
chance ; but you are never tired, blown or daunted ; it is 
no use to go back towards the east, the ground is all dis- 
turbed there ; so we must take a long round by Coir-na- 
minghie, and cross the low ground out of sight, where we 
■can go up Cairn-cherie, and get above them, and then let 
them look to themselves." 

All this was done at their best pace : after a long, I will 
not say a toilsome, circuit — the excitement they felt ren- 
dering them insensible to fatigue, — a close approximation 
to the fatal spot was gained. They had the deer below 


them, that was certain ; but it was necessary to ascertain 
their precise situation before they were started, and not to 
lose sight of the points of their horns whilst they were 
running, otherwise a complete failure might be anticipated. 
For in such a case they might come out behind the sports- 
man whilst he was running forward, get his wind, bolt out 
of the cast, and thus be lost to him for the day ; or they 
might cross the ground out of distance, or go straight for- 
ward out of sight. Success, in short, in such case, would 
depend upon mere accident ; so the proper tact was ob- 
served ; they kept well behind them, and peeped and 
crawled for some time, till they discovered a hind. She 
was lying down in the moss, shaking her head and flapping 
her ears, as if to keep off the flies. Every now and then 
she looked up and gazed about her with expanded nostrils, 
as if to search for some taint in the air. She was evidently 
the leader of the parcel, and the harts were sure to wait 
upon her movements. 

Tortoise, Peter Eraser, and Thomas Jamieson now crept 
back, and went on a little till they got to some ground, 
under cover of which they were able to proceed in a more 
comfortable attitude. They then got on cautiously to the 
south-west, and after some curious windings, and certain 
dabblings in bogs and water-courses, they laid themselves 
down prostrate in the heather, through bunches of which 
they had a glimpse of the cautious sentinel. Jamieson, 
who prudently lagged behind, was then motioned to give 
the signal, which was the exhibition of his shirt by the 
unbuttoning of his waistcoat — an object discoverable by 
the glass at a very considerable distance. 

No sooner had the signal been observed by Maclaren, 
who it will be recollected was on the opposite mountain, 
than he rose up and came forward in the direction of the 
herd ; as he advanced slowly, the hind stood up, and the 
horns of the stags below her began to appear to the sports- 
men one after the other, and presented a most tantalising 
spectacle. These fine fellows were at a very considerable dis- 
tance, but the rifleman completely commanded their position. 

After a little shifting and advancing on the part of 
Maclaren, and continued gazing and observation on the 


side of the deer, the latter began to draw forward a little, 
but soon halted, as if to ascertain whether a retreat was 
absolutely necessary ; having at length judged it to be so, 
they moved on leisurely with a few hinds in front to a 
notch in the hill, where the ascent was the least fatiguing 
to them ; the hinds sank into this hollow, went forward up 
it, and were lost .sight of in a few moments. The rest of 
the herd followed them ; the sportsmen then rose up warily, 
and got forward also by a semicircular movement, running 
under cover of rocks and moss-hags, w^ith sufficient rapidity 
to bring them within distance as the deer crossed in front 
of them. 

They arrived just in the nick of time, and found them- 
selves about a hundred yards from the herd as it swept by. 
The bodies of the harts were a fair and inviting mark, 
though their legs were hid, — the selection was promptly 
made, and two first-rate stags fell dead upon the spot ; the 
third ball also had evidently hit the mark. Away ran 
Peter Fraser, whilst Jamieson loaded the rifles, and just 
glancing at the two victims as he passed them, peeped over 
the next ridge of the hill, when he suddenly tossed his arms 
aloft, like Gilpin Horner, and pranced forward to a third 
deer which lay dead beyond him. 

It takes up a considerable time to clean three deer and 
prepare them properly, so that during this operation the 
herd had leisure and opportunity to get forward and select 
their own ground, which they did, by going into Glen 
Dirie, and moving along the steep stony tracks on the 
western face of Ben-y-venie. 

" Here, Sandy, another glass of Loch Rannoch, the Doch- 
an-dorroch, ye ken ; off with it. So now go up Ben-y-chait, 
taking care to cross the glen out of sight of the deer, and 
to keep them from the west. We will go forward right up 

Sandy Macintosh was a capital fellow of the antelope 
sort, and put out his long legs nimbly, so that he was 
quickly on his ground, as also was the rifleman. The deer 
were soon discovered winding' amonc: the cracks below ; and 
keen Sandy was so alert and judicious in his motions, that 
lie kept them on that precipitous side of the mountain. 


" By heavens, he has turned them up our hill again, and 
they are coming up the steeps at the old place ! Forward, 
forward, run low, low ; we shall have them again to a 

He did indeed have them with a witness, and came right 
up with a string of them, running immediately below him 
at an easy distance. Go which way they chose they could 
not now escape him ; a vast hollow of the hill side lay 
beneath, fully exposed to his view ; so he stood on the 
commanding crags, without the slightest attempt at conceal- 
ment, and fired two shots in rapid succession. One hart 
fell dead on the spot, and another went away wounded. 

" Murder, murder I O Lord, murder ! Haud yer han' ; 
baud yer han' ; we canna tak' tent o' a' thae deer." . 

And Peter Fraser held the third rifle with a firm grip, 
and refused to give it up. But a sharp tug or two, and a 
sudden and unexpected twist from Tortoise, soon released 
it from his grasp.* 

"Aweel, aweel; haud to yon muckle deer then, awa to 
the wast. There, there (pointing)." 

Down he dropped instantly to the rifle ; and away went 
Tortoise after the wounded stag. A dog was properly 
slipped, who ran a beautiful chase all down the steeps of 
Ben-y-venie towards the river Mark. There the helpless 
animal stood at bay, and received his death-shot. He fell 
in a secluded spot, below some rocks and birch trees, where 
he was gralloched and washed out; his head was turned 
back on his shoulder, according to custom, and peats were 
put upon it to keep his eyes from the great bird ; nor did 
they neglect to tie the black flag on his horns, which, waving 
in the night air, might scare away the raven, and baulk 
him of his prey. 

The herd passed forward, and Tortoise held his glass to 
them, but discontinued the pursuit, although they were 
still before him in his cast. 

* The immediate attendant on the deerstalker holds the spare rifles, and 
gives them one after the other to the sportsman, as he tires them in suc- 
cession. The gunstocks got much battered in Tortoise's service, as he 
generally flung down each rifle as soon as he had discharged it— rock or 
moss, it took its chance. 


The events of this day may be summed up in tlie words 
of Peter Fraser, which I extract from a letter written by 
him, now lying before me, and which he sent to Dunkeld, 
for the purpose of communicating this remarkable day's 

" The deer went on to Beinn-a-Weadhounedh," and before 

we was done with the aforesaid hill, Mr. S had his 

da3^'s sport finished — eight fine harts. This was done early 
in the afternoon ; and he wished to carry on further, but I 
got him advised to go home to Forest Lodge." "f" 

This was my last day in the forest of Atholl. The scene, 
alas, soon changed, and mourning followed on its rear. In 
the midst of joy comes sorrow — the dark, the inevitable 
cloud, which had been almost imperceptibly gathering, at 
length burst over us. The solemn bell of the old Cathedral 
struck duly, and the sound bore the lament through the 
hollow woods and glens, and fell heavily upon our hearts ; 
the waters rolled on, and the pines waved their green heads, 
but all was void and desolate. That intellectual light, 
which shone on the vast domain, — which, acting on a Roman 
scale, gave employment and a maintenance to thousands, — 
which spanned the broad waters of the Tay with a magni- 
ficent bridge, and spread immense forests over wastes 
heretofore unproductive — which was evermore successfully 
exerted for the happiness of family, friends, and dependants, 
and the prosperity of the country at large — that light — 
that master-mind, was suddenly withdrawn from us, and 
the kindest heart that ever warmed human bosom ceased to 
beat. Sorrow sat brooding in the halls of the great ; and 
the rough Highlander, as he walked silently in the gloom of 

* The Gaelic appellation for Ben-y-venie. 
+ The Duke of Atholl was so liberal in his presents of venison, and his 
hospitality so great, that no supply I was ever able to aflford him could 
exceed his desires, so that he rejoiced in a day of this description, and 
would listen to the details with great interest. Some apology would 
otherwise be necessary for my slaughter on this and other days nearly 
similar to it. The chief point consists in selecting the best harts, and 
passmg^by the inferior ones. This was held to be the test of a good sports- 
man. In grouse-shooting, except I was enjoined to do otherwise, I always 
limited my sport to twenty brace a day, though in a good season I think 
I could have killed four or five times that number ; but I| never had any 
pleasure in destroying game for which there was no immediate demand. 
Peter Fraser still acts as deer driver in the forest of Atholl. 


the glen, paused, and drew his sleeve across his eyes, as he 
thought on his departed chief. 

The bitterness of that hour is now past, and a new dawn 
breaks over the mountains. The gallant young heir returns 
to his native hills and floods, radiant with youth and pro- 
mise ; his people accept the omen. 

Proceed noble chieftain, and fulfil your great duties like 
him who is gathered to the tomb of his fathers ; and may 
his mantle sit gracefully on you. May happiness and the 
well-earned love of your dependants wait upon your foot- 
steps ; thus the glory shall shine on your brows, and depart 
not from the halls of your ancestors. 

" Si qua Fata aspera rumpas, 

Tu Marcellus eris ." 


By the Hon. T. H. Liddell. 

The moors, the moors, the bonny brown moors, 
Shining and fresh with April showers ! 

When the wild birds sing 

The return of sj)ring, 

And the gorse and the broom 

Shed the rich perfume 

Of their golden bloom, 
'Tis a joy to revisit the bonny brown moors. 
Aloft in the air floats the white sea-mew. 
And pipes his shrill whistle the grey curlew ; 
And the peewit gambols around her nest. 
And the heath-cock crows on the mountain's crest ; 
And freely gushes the dark brown rill, 
In cadence sweet from the lonely hill ; 
Where, mingling her song with the torrent's din, 
As it bubbles and foams in the rocky linn, 
Twitters and j^lunges the water- crow 
In the pool where the trout are springing below ; 
And the lambs in the sun-shine leap and play 
By their bleating dams in the grassy brae, 
With a withered thorn for their trysting place. 
To mark the goal where their foot-prints trace 
The narrow course of their sportive race. 
Oh ! know ye the region in spring more fair 
Than the banks and the glens of the moorland bare ? 
The moors ! the moors ! the fragrant moors ! 
When the heather breaks forth into purple flowers ! 


"When the blazicg Sun 

Through the Crab hath run, 

And the Lion's wrath 

Inflames his path, 
What garden can vie with the glowing moors ! 
The hght clouds seem in mid air to rest 
On the dappled mountain's misty breast, • 
And hving things bask in the noon-tide ray, 
That Hghts up the summer's glorious day ; 
Nor a sough of wind, nor a sound is heard. 
Save the faint shrill chirp of some lonely bird — 
Save the raven's croak, or the buzzard's cry, 
Or the wild bee's choral minstrelsy. 
Or the tinkling bell of the drowsy flock, 
Where they lie in the shade of the caverned rock : 
But wlien the last hues of decUning day 
Are melted and lost in the twilight grey, 
And the stars peep forth, and the full-orbed moon 
Serenely looks down from her highest noon. 
And the ripj^ling water reflects her light 
Where the birch and the pine-tree deepen the night : 
Oh I who but must own his proud spirit subdued 
By the calm of the desert solitude : 
So balmy, so silent, so solemnly fair, 
As if some blest spirit were riding the air, 
And might commune with man on the moorland bare I 

The moors ! the moors ! the joyous moors ! 
When Autumn displays her golden stores ; 

When the morning's breath 

Blows across the heath. 

And the fern waves wide 

On the mountain's side, 

'Tis gladness to ride 
At the peep of dawn o'er the dewy moors I 
For the sportsmen have mounted the topmost crags, 
And the fleet dogs bound o'er the mossy hags, 
And the mist clears off, as the lagging sun 
With his first ray gleams on the glancing gun, 
And the startled grouse, and the black cock spring 
At the well-known report on whirring wing. 
Or wander we north, where the dun deer go 
Unrestrained o'er the summits of huge Ben-y-gloe ; 
And Glen Tilt, and Glen Bruar re-echo the sound 
Of the hart held to bay by the deep-mouthed blood-hound, 
And the eagle stoops down from Schechallien to claim. 
With the fox and the raven, his share of the game. 
But a cloud hath o'ershadowed the forest and waste, 
And the Angel of Death on the whirlwind hath passed 


And the coronacli rings on the mountains of Blair, 
For the Lord of the woods and the moorlands bare. 

The moors ! the moors ! the desolate moors I 

When the mist thickens round, and the tempest roars ! 

When the monarch of storm 

Rears his giant form 

On some rock-built throne 

That he claims for his own. 
To survey the wild war on the desolate moors ! 
For the winds are let loose, and the sound is gone forth 
To awaken the troops of the frozen north ! 
And the lightning, and hailstone, and hurricane fly. 
At a wave of his arm, through the dark rolling sky ; 
And his footsteps are trampling the fog and the cloud, 
That envelop the earth in a funeral shroud ; 
And the sheep and the shepherd lie buried below 
The wide-spreading folds of his mantle of snow ; 
And the breath of his nostrils encumbers the wood ; 
And his fetters of crystal arrest the flood ; 
And he binds in its fall the cataract. 
And makes level the gulfs of the mountain tract ; 
Till his work is complete, — and a dread repose 
Broods over a boundless waste of snows ; 
And the wild winds bewail in whispers drear 
The decay and death of the by-gone year. 



[Communicated by Archibald Macneill, Esq., of Colonsay.] 

Dogs of Ancient Britain.— Irish Dogs sent to Rome.— Early Scottish Dogs. — Sculptured 
Stones at Meigle. — The Miol-chu. — The MastifiE and Greyhound. — Recreation of 
Queen Elizabeth. — Dogs of Epirus. — Irish Wolf-dog. — Proportions of a Deer-hound. 
—Failure of Crosses in Breeding.— Deer Dogs of Colonsay, and Dimensions of 
Buskar. — Expedition from Colonsay.— Cavern Scene.— Wild Scenery in Jura.— Stag 
Discovered.— Stalking Him.— The Start and Course.— His Death.— Speed and bottom 
of Deer-hounds.- Decay of the Ancient Race. 

" Canis venaticus, celerrimus, audacissimusque non solum in feras sed in 
hostes etiam latronesque prsesertim, si dominum ductoremve injuria oflfici 
cernat, aut in eos concitetur." — Boece. 

It is not a little remarkable that the species of dog, which 
has been longest in use in this country for the purposes of 


the chase, should be that which is least known to the 
present generation of naturalists and sportsmen. While we 
are presented with delineations and descriptions of every 
race of dog, from the mastiff down to the pug, we find no 
writer of the present day who speaks with any degree of 
certainty as to the size, colour, or appearance of the deer- 
hound, once so highly prized, and for a great period of the 
history of this country, the only dog fitted for the sports of 
the field. One would naturally have thought that, the 
gigantic, picturesque, and graceful form of this animal (the 
constant attendant of nobility), would have insured for the 
present generation a faithful description of its appearance 
and habits, but it is to be feared that none such has been 
transmitted to us, and that to the effusions of the bards, 
and traditionary tales of former days, we are chiefly indebted 
for any idea of the perfection to which this breed at one 
time attained in this country. 

From modern writers we learn nothing further than 
ihat such a race of dogs at one time existed in Ireland, 
that they were of a gigantic size, and that they are now 

One great obstacle in the way of investigating the history 
of this dog has arisen from the different appellations given 
to it, according to the fancy of the natives in different parts 
of the country, of Irish wolfdog, Irish greyhound. Highland 
deerhound, and Scotch greyhound. 

But for these apparently distinctive designations, sufficient 
information would probably have been recorded regarding 
a breed of dogs really the same, and in such general use 
throughout the different parts of the kingdom. 

That dogs resembling the greyhounds of the present day 
were known in this country as early as the third century 
we have ample proof from the writings of Roman authors, 
and, in particular, from the works of Nemesianus and 
Gratius. In his Cynegeticon Gratius mentions two distinct 
breeds of dogs as natives of England, the one termed 
Molossus, which is supposed to have been the mastiff, and 
the other Yertraha, which, from the description, seems to 
correspond, in many points, with the greyhounds at present 
in use in this country. 


Nemesianus gives the following description of these 
dogs : — 

" Sit cruribus altis, 
Sit rigidis, multamque gerat sub pectore lato 
Costarum sub fine decenter prona carinam 
QusB sensim rursus sicca se colligat alvo, 
Renibus ampla satis validis, deductaque coxas, 
Cuique nimis molles fluitent in cursibus aures." 

And again he says, — 

" Divisa Britannia mittit 
Veloces, nostrique orbis venatibus aptos." 

From the same authorities we learn that the mastiffs of 
England were highly prized by the Roman emperors, and 
were used by them for the combats of the amphitheatre. 

It also appears from Symmachus, that in the ourth 
century a number of dogs of a great size were sent n iron 
cages from Ireland to Rome, which were probably used for 
the same purposes; and as the mastiff* was purely an English 
dog, it is not improbable that the dogs so sent were grey- 
hounds, particularly as we learn, from the authority of 
Evelyn and others, that the Irish wolf dog was used for the 
fights of the bear-garden. 

How and when this species of dog came to be denominated 
greyhound i§ a point on which naturalists are not agreed. 
Some derive the appellation g7'ey from Graecus, whilst 
others, as Jn. Caius, derive it from gret, or great. Without 
pretending to determine this point, it may be suggested, as 
not improbable, that the name is derived from the colour 
(which is still the prevailing one of these dogs in the remote 
districts of Scotland), particularly as we find them described 
as Cu lia, or grey dog. 

Whatever may have been the origin of the name, there 
is little doubt as to. the antiquity of a species of dog in this 
country bearing a great resemblance in many points to the 
greyhound of the present day, and passing under that name, 
though evidently a larger, nobler, and more courageous 

Among the oldest Scotch authorities are some sculptured 
.stones in the churchyard of Meigle, a village of Perthshire. 
These stones represent in relief the figures of several dogs» 


which bear so strong a resemblance to the Highland deer- 
hound as to leave no doubt that they are intended to 
represent this species. The date of this sculpture is con- 
sidered by antiquaries, and in particular by Chalmers, to 
have been previous to the introduction of Christianity, and 
as early at least as the ninth century. 

These, though probably the earliest, are by no means the 
only stones on which representations are given of these 
dogs. On many others of great antiquity to be met with in 
different parts of the country hunting scenes are represented, 
in which the same species of dogs are introduced in full 
pursuit of deer. 

Among the Anglo-Saxons, with whom the wild boar, 
the wolf, and the hart were constant objects of sport, no 
dogs were so highly prized as the original race of grey- 

When a nobleman travelled, he never went without 
these dogs. The hawk he bore on his wrist, and the grey- 
hounds who ran before him, were certain testimonials of 
his rank ; and in the ancient pipe-rolls, payments appear to 
have been often made in these valuable animals. 

In the 11th. century, so greatly were greyhounds in 
estimation, that by the forest laws of Canute the Great, 
no person under the rank of a gentleman was allowed to 
keep one. 

At this period, and until after the Norman conquest, the 
chase was always pursued on foot ; the Normans having 
been the first to introduce the mode of following their game 
on horseback. 

It is obvious, from the rouorh and uncultivated state of 
the country, and the nature of the game which was then 
the object of the chase (viz., deer of all sorts, wolves, and 
foxes), that the dogs then used would be of a larger, fiercer, 
and more shaggy description than the greyhounds of the 
present day, which are bred solely for speed, and have, by 
modern culture and experimental crosses, been rendered, in 
all probability, a swifter animal, and better suited for 
€Oursing the hare in a level country. 

As cultivation increased, the game for which the deer- 
hound was particularly suited gradually diminished, and 


the improvement in agriculture in England being more 
rapid than in the sister kingdoms, the diminution of deer 
and wolves was proportionally great. The deerhound, con- 
sequently, in that country, degenerated from want of 
attention to its peculiar characteristics, and gradually 
merged into the greyhound of the present day. 

In Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, red deer continued to 
he the objects of the chase till a much later period than in 
Enofland : and as from the ruofofed and uncultivated state 
of these countries the game could only be followed on foot, 
it was necessary to use that species of dog which would 
unable the sportsman to view and enjoy the chase. 

At an early period, the name by which these dogs were 
known in these countries was the same, viz., the Celtic one 
of Miol chic, which signifies a dog for the pursuit of wild 
animals, though this term is now applied generally to all 
dogs of the greyhound species.* The following description 
of the miol-chu has been handed down for generations, and 
is quite as minute, and at least as old, as the well known 
one of the book of St. Alban's : — 

" Sud mar thaghadh Fionn a chii 
Suil mar airneag, cluas mar dliuileig, 
Uchd mar ghearran, speir mar clioran, 
Meadh' leathan, an cliabh leabliar, 
'San t-alt cuil fad bho'n cheann ; " 

which may be translated thus : — 

An eye of sloe, with ear not low, 
With horse's breast, with depth of chest, 
With breadth of loin, and curve in groin, 
And nape set far behind the head : 
Such were the dogs that Fingal bred. 

Gesner, in his history of quadrupeds, published in 1560, 
gives drawings of three species of Scottish dogs, which, he 
informs us, were furnished him by Henry St. Clair, dean of 

These drawings are said to represent the three different 

* I am informed from Scotland, that a tradition still prevails among the 
Highlanders, of a much larger species of deer than the present having 
formerly existed in their hills, which they called *' miol." (qu. elk) — W.S. 


species of dogs mentioned by Boece, in his History of Scot- 
land, published 1526, of which the deer-hound is one. 
This drawing, though a rudely executed woodcut, is full of 
character, and coincides with the descriptions which have 
reached us of this dog. 

Of the dog known in Ireland under the name of the 
Irish greyhound, Holinshed, in his " Description of Ireland 
and the Irish," written in 1586, has the following notice, — 
" They are not without wolves, and greyhounds to hunt 
them, bigger of bone and lim than a colt ;" and, in a frontis- 
piece to Sir James Ware's "History of Ireland," an allegorical 
representation is given of a passage from the venerable 
Bede, in which two dogs are introduced, bearing so strong 
a resemblance to that given by Gesner, as to leave no doubt 
that they are the same species. 

The mastiff and the greyhound both appear, from the old 
Welsh laws, to have been used from a very early period by 
that people, and were termed by them, the former Gellgi, 
and the latter Milgi, which latter is evidently the same 
word with the appellation of Miol chii, given by the High- 
landers and Irish to the deer-hound. 

Of the mode of huntings and usino^ these doo^s, we have 
descriptions by William Barclay, as far back as 1563, by 
Taylor, the water poet, and by others. 

The term Irish is applied to the Highland dogs, as every 
thing Celtic (not excepting the language) was designated in 
England, probably in consequence of Ireland being, at that 
period, better known to the English than Scotland. This 
is, however, a proof of the similarity of the dogs, and also 
that they were not then in use in England in the same 
perfection. Nor is this supposition inconsistent with the 
account given by Sir John Nicol, of Queen Elizabeth's 
amusements at Cowdrey Park, in 1595, — " Then rode her 
Grace to Cowdrey to dinner, and about six of the clock in 
the evening, sawe sixteen bucks pulled down with grey- 
hounds in a laund," — since it will be observed, from the use 
of the term "bucks," that these deer were fallow; and, 
probably, the course was paled in, as appears to have been 
usual on such occasions, from a minute account by the 
translator of the " Noble Art of Venerie and Hunting," 
published in London in 1811. 


Of the courage of the ancient deer-hound there can be 
little doubt, from the nature of the game for which he was 
used, but if any proof were wanting, an incident mentioned 
by Evelyn in his Diary, 1670, when present at a bull fight 
in the bear garden, is conclusive. He says, " The bulls 
(meaning the bull dogs) did exceeding well, but the Irish 
wolf dog exceeded, which was a tall greyhound, a stately 
creature indeed, who beat a cruele mastiff." 

Here then is further proof that the Irish wolf dog was 
a greyhound, and there can be little doubt that it is the 
same dog that we find mentioned under the name of " the 
Irish Greyhound." 

On comparison, therefore, of the descriptions given of the 
Yertraha of Nemesian, the English greyhound of the 15th 
century, the Irish wolf dog, and the Highland deer-hound, 
we find a strong similarity ; and when it is recollected, that 
the game for which they were all used was the same, and 
that the term miol chil was the one generally used for this 
species of dog over a great portion of the country, we have 
strong reasons to conclude that they were one and the same 
kind, the more particularly as we find the Irish wolf dog 
described as a greyhound, and the Highland deer-hound as 
an Irish greyhound; and find that the drawings which 
have reached us of the Scotch and Irish dogs, bear so strong 
a resemblance to each other. 

From the above authorities, it is obvious that this race 
of dogs has been known in this country for many centuries, 
and for a greater period of time than any other sort; indeed, 
it is the opinion of most naturalists, and, among others, 
BufFon, that they are an original race, and natives of Britain. 
On this subject he has the following remarks : — " The Irish 
greyhounds are of a' very ancient race, and still exist 
(though their number is small) in their original climate : 
they were called by the ancients, dogs of Epirus, and 
Albanian dogs. Pliny has narrated, in the most elegant 
and energetic terms, a combat between one of these dogs, 
first with a lion, and then with an elephant; they are 
much larger than the mastiff. In France they are so rare, 
that I never saw above one of them, which appeared 
when sitting to be about five feet high, and resembled 
in figure the Danish dog, but greatly exceeded him in 


stature. He was totally white, and of a mild and peace- 
able disposition." 

In corroboration of BufFon's theory, that the dogs of 
Epirus and Albania are the same with the Highland deer- 
hoand, it may be remarked as not a little singular, that the 
dogs at present in use in the mountains of Macedonia, for 
the purpose of deer-coursing, are similar in figure, colour, 
disposition, and in the texture of their hair, to those used in 
this country. They are only to be found in the possession 
of the nobility, and are with them also exceedingly rare.* 

The exact size to which the deer-hound once attained in 
this country it is now difficult, from the contradictory ac- 
counts that have reached us, to determine. 

Buffon, as we have already seen, informs us, that the only 
one he ever saw was much larger than a mastiff, and when 
sittinor was about five feet hiorh. 

o o 

Goldsmith, in his account of the species of dog known 
in Ireland in his time, under the name of " Irish wolf-dog," 
represents him as being rather kept for show than for use, 
there being neither wolves nor any other formidable beast of 
prey in Ireland that seem to require so powerful an antagonist. 

Judorinor also from the drawincj of Lord Altamount's doofs, 
given by Mr. Lambert, and from the measurements taken 
by him in 1790, it is evident that these wolf-dogs, as they 
are called, bore no resemblance whatever to the Irish grey- 
hound, as described by Holinshed, with which also they 
hunted wolves, as is apparent from their broad pendulous 
ears, hanging lips, hollow backs, heavy bodies, smooth hair, 
straight hocks, drooping tails, and party colour ; but were, 
in all probability, a remnant of the old Irish blood-hound, 
which was frequently used for tracking wolves, and which 
at a later period might have been mistaken for a species 
then in that country nearly, if not altogether extinct. 

* My friend, Mr. Skene, is possessed of an ancient and curious map of 
the world, in which the ert, or elk, is represented as characterising the 
Transylvauian Forest, and near it is a representation of " Canes fortiores," 
or the great Albanian dog, which these northern tribes are reported to have 
used to drag their carriages, as well as to hunt the bear, wolf, and elk. 
The animal given as the elk in the map is represented with very broad 
palmated horns, more like those of the moose deer, or the extinct Cervus 
euryceros, whose remains are found in the bogs of Ireland and the Isle of 
Man, than the true elk. This serves to connect the miol-chu of Ireland 
and the Highlands still more closely with the Albanian deer-dog. — W. S. 


To these vague accounts, however, little weight can be 
attached, and the only real criterion by which we can 
form a notion of the perfection to which this breed for- 
merly attained, is from the small remnant that we now 

In Ireland at the present day (we speak from the most 
accurate information) not a vestige of this breed is to be 
met with. 

To England the same remarks may be applied. In Wales 
some of this breed may still exist, although no evidence of 
the fact has reached us. In Scotland (from a perfect know- 
ledge of every specimen of the breed) we know that very 
few — perhaps, not above a' dozen — pure deer-hounds are to 
be met with. 

It is difficult, without a great variety of measurements, 
to determine the exact size of a dog, or to give an accurate 
idea of its proportions ; though a good general idea may 
be formed, by giving the height at the shoulder, as measured 
with a slide, the girth round the chest, and the weight of 
the dog, together with a few descriptive remarks regarding 

Applying, therefore, the above rules to such of this race 
as we have seen, and allowing for the degeneracy which 
must have taken place in this breed throughout the country 
(arising from diminution in number, neglect in crossing, 
selection, and feeding), these dogs may probably have, at a 
remoter period, averaged in height thirty inches, in girth 
thirty-four inches, and in weight 100 lbs. 

Notwithstanding the degeneracy above alluded to, none 
of the canine race present at this day such a combination 
of qualities as the Highland deerhound, — speed, strength, 
size, endurance, courage, perseverance, sagacity, docility, 
elegance, and dignity ; all these qualities are possessed by 
this dog in a very high degree, and all of them (with the 
exception of the two latter) are called eminently into 
exertion in pursuit of the game, for which he is so well 
calculated. Every attempt to improve this race by a cross 
with any other species has utterly failed. Such has been 
the result of the attempts made with the bull-dog, the 
blood-hound, and the Pyrenean wolf-dog ; by the cross 
with the bull-dog courage was gained, but speed, strength, 


weight, and that roughness which is necessary fur the 
protection of the feet in a rocky mountainous country, 
was lost. In the cross with the blood-hound no quality 
was gained but that of smell, while the speed and size were 
diminished ; and with the Pyrenean wolf-dog, though weight 
was in some cases gained, yet this was of no avail, as speed 
and courage were both lost. 

All these crosses were found totally unfit for the purpose 
of deer coursing, as was effectually proved by the late 
Glengarry, who made many attempts to perpetuate this 
sport. Of the cross with the blood-hound was Sir Walter 
Scott's dog, bred and presented to him by Glengarry. 

The finest, I believe, and apparently the purest specimens 
of the deerhound now to be met with, are those in the posses- 
sion of Captain M'Neill, the younger, of Colonsay, of which 
he has in particular two dogs, Buskar and Bran, and two 
bitches, Runa and Cavack. 

These dogs, though all more or less related to each other, 
vary somewhat in colour, two being of a pale yellow, and 
two of a sand}^ red ; and vary also in the length and quality 
of the hair. 

There is one peculiarity common to all, viz., that the tips 
of their ears, eyes, and muzzles, are black, and that in all 
other parts they are each of one uniform colour, a never- 
failing accompaniment of purity of breed. 

In their running points they bear a great similarity to a 
well-bred greyhound ; and, though somewhat coarser, are 
supposed (from the trials which have been made) to be 
quite as swift. Their principal difference in shape from 
the common greyhound consists in a greater height of 
shoulder, thickness of neck, size of head and muzzle, and 
coarseness of bone. They are much more sagacious than 
the common greyhound, and in disposition are more playful 
and attached, but much bolder and fiercer when roused. 

The following are the dimensions of Buskar,* taken in 
August, 183G :— 

* The principal dog in Mr. Edwin Landseer's beautiful vignette, opposite 
to the frontispiece of this work, is taken from a sketch of this celebrated 
animal, but does not, I think, give the idea of quite so much bone and 
muscle as belongs to the original. — W.S. 


Height at shoulder, ... 28 inches. 

Girth of chest, . . . . 32 „ 

Weight in running condition, . . 85 lbs. 

This dog is of a pale yellow, and appears to be remark- 
ably pure in his breeding, not only from his shape and 
colour, but from the strength and wiry elasticity of his 
hair, which by Highlanders is thought to be a criterion of 

Though the dogs now described are of a yellow or reddish 
colour, yet there are in the districts of Badenoch and 
Lochaber, some of a dark grey, which are considered pure ; 
indeed it is believed that this was at one time the prevailing 
colour in the Highlands of Scotland. Besides the difference 
of colour, there seems to be a decided difference in the 
texture of the hair between the yellow and grey dog ; that 
of the grey dog being much softer and more woolly. The 
latter also seem to be less lively, and do not exhibit such a 
development of muscle, particularly on the back and loins, 
and have a tendency to eat hams. 

There is a striking peculiarity in the deerhound, viz., the 
difference in size betwixt the male and female, which is 
more remarkable than in any of the other varieties of the 
canine race. 

The following are the dimensions of a full-grown stag 
taken from actual measurement : — 

Height at shoulder, 

Girth at shoulder, .... 
Height from top of head to the fore-foot, . 
Length of antler, .... 
Extreme height from the top of the antlers to 

the ground, . . . . 7 10 

Weight as he fell, 308 lbs. 

When we consider the above measurements, it is not a 
matter of surprise that few dogs, if any, should be found, 
who are capable, single handed, of pulling down an animal 
of such size, strength, and activity. 

Deer-coursing, the noblest of all the Highland sports, has 
long been a favourite amusement with the inhabitants of 
the north and west of Scotland; and though fallen into 
disuse of late years, it is still practised in some parts of the 












country. For the following account of the mode in which 
it is now practised we are indebted to one of the few sports- 
men, who have had the good fortune to enjoy (of late years 
at least) the pleasures of this exciting sport. 

It was on the evening of the 11th of August, 1835, that 
a party, consisting of six sportsmen, a boat's crew of seven 
men, with piper, deer-stalker, and two deerhounds, set out 
from Colonsay, and landed on a beach on the north and 
precipitous coast of Captain M'Neill's property in the island 
of Jura, and having clambered up a broken and rocky bank 
to the foot of a precipice which overhung the sea, they 
entered by a gradual slope into a spacious and picturesque 
cave, the mouth of which could not be discovered from 
below. Their first care was to kindle a fire, the smoke of 
which rose in a straight column to the roof, and crept along 
almost imperceptibly to the opening, from which it made 
its escape. Preparations were then made for a repast, one 
of the sailors officiating as cook. His knowledge of the 
science of gastronomy was not great, but with the aid of 
the King of Oude, etc., etc., he contrived to set before us a 
dish which would have done honour to a greater artiste, 
and to which our good appetites enabled us to do ample 
justice. Our repast concluded with the never-failing 
accompaniment of whiskey toddy ; after which, all were 
anxious for repose, that they might be on the alert by break 
of day. 

By the side of the fire a couch was spread of dried ferns 
and heather, such as fair Ellen provided for King James ; 
but though our attendant was neither young nor of the 
fair sex, we had the advantage over royalty in one respect, 
being provided with a good stock of blankets, a comfort 
not at all to be despised in such a situation. 

At a little distance the sails were spread for the boatmen , 
and further off*, in a recess of the cave, the dogs were 
fastened to a stone large enough to have secured even those 
of Fingal, where a bed of dry ferns was laid for them. 

The different picturesque groups, and the deep gloom of 
the cavern, illuminated only by the fitful blaze of the wood 
fire, presented a subject worthy the study of a Rembrandt, 
while the sullen . roar of the waves as they dashed against 


the rocks below, and were re-echoed in the cave, ofave a 
wildness and grandeur to the scene, that was romantic and 

Having betaken ourselves to our resting place, sleep 
gradually stole over the whole party, and it was only at 
break of day that the lively air of "Hey Johnny Cope," 
blown from the pipes of Duncan M'Carmick, aroused us 
from our slumbers. 

In a moment each sprang from his couch of heather ; and 
not forgetting to give instructions for the preparation of 
breakfast (and in particular, that the a la blaze should be 
again put in requisition), we descended to a stream, which 
runs through the valley at the foot of the cave, to perform 
our ablutions, and having refreshed ourselves with a dip in 
the sea, returned to breakfast even at that early hour, with 
no want of appetite. Our morning meal was soon over; 
Buskar and Bran were got in readiness, and the whole 
party issued forth full of expectation ; indeed, so eager 
were the dogs, that though they had not tasted food from 
the forenoon of the previous day, they would not look at 
the cake which was offered them, and Buskar, when pressed, 
at length took the cake in his teeth, and impatiently threw 
it from him. 

From the lofty situation of the mouth of the cave, the 
view was most extensive and picturesque. To the right 
the Atlantic rolled beneath us, from whose bosom the sun 
had just emerged; before us lay a wide extended heath, 
from which the mists of the morning had withdrawn, 
though they still concealed from our view the picturesque 
tops of the mountains by which it was bounded. A beauti- 
ful valley stretched to the left, divided down the centre by 
a deep ravine, through which a mountain stream flowed 
and emptied itself into the sea immediately below us, while 
over our heads hung a precipitous ridge of rocks. All was, 
as Johnson has expressed it, " rudeness, silence, and soli- 
tude." There "was no trace of the habitation of man ; not 
a sound was to be heard, except the murmur of the waters, 
and occasionally the wild note of some sea bird as it flitted 
from rock to rock. 

Before leaving our commanding situation, it was deemed 


prudent to scrutinise narrowly with our telescopes the 
ground before us, particularly those beds of fern, so frequent 
in these moors, in which the stags, having pastured all night, 
generally secrete themselves on the approach of day, leaving 
nothing visible but their light grey heads and horns, which, 
without the aid of a glass, it is impossible to distinguish. 

Havinof satisfied ourselves that there were none within 
our view, the next point to be considered was the direction 
of the wind, and the nature of the ground through v^hich 
we were to pass. 

The direction in which we should proceed being agreed 
upon, Finlay (than whom a better deer-stalker never trod 
the heath) set out about fifty yards in advance, provided 
with a telescope ; while the rest of the party followed 
slowly and silently with the dogs in slips. We had thus 
proceeded up a rocky glen for some miles, gradually ascend- 
ing from the sea, when the stalker descried (without the 
aid of his glass) a stag about a mile off. He immediately 
prostrated himself on the ground, and in a second the whole 
party lay flat on the heath ; for even at that great distance 
we might have been discovered by the deer. Finlay then 
returned, crawling along the ground, to the spot where we 
were lying, and directed us to creep back for a short 
distance until we were out of sight. As yet, the rest of 
the party had seen nothing of the stag, and although the 
stalker pointed steadily in the direction in which he was, 
not one of the party could discover him with the naked 
eye ; but Buskar, who had hitherto followed quietly, now 
commenced a low whining noise, and with ears erect, gazed 
steadily at the spot w^here the deer was lying. On taking 
the glass, we were soon satisfied of the correctness of the 
stalker's vision, for we could distinctly perceive a fine stag 
lying on the side of the valley to our left, quietly chewing 
the cud, and looking round in all directions. We immedi- 
ately retreated, and following our guide, got into the 
channel of a mountain stream, which (though the stag was 
in a situation that commanded the greater part of the 
valley) enabled us, from its depth and windings, to approach 
towards him until we should be screened by some inter- 
vening rocks. 


We then left the channel of the stream, and finding that 
we could proceed no further in that direction without 
being observed or scented by the deer, whose power of 
smell is most acute, we turned to the left, and keeping the 
lowest ground, proceeded some way up the side of the 
valley on which he lay, when Finlay informed us that we 
should soon be again in sight ; and that in order to keep 
ourselves concealed, it was necessary to throw ourselves on 
our faces, and creep through some rushes that lay before us. 
This we did, following each other in a line, and closely 
observing the motions of our guide, for a distance of 100 
yards, until a rising ground intervening between us and the 
deer, permitted us to regain an upright posture. Having 
gained this point, Finlay thought it necessary to take 
another view of the deer, in case he might have changed 
his position, and thus, perhaps, be brought into sight of us 
when we least expected it : it was proper also to ascertain 
whether or not there were any deer in his neighbourhood, 
who might be disturbed by our approach, and communicate 
their alarm to him. For this purpose, unbonneted, his hair 
having been cut close for the occasion, he slowly ascended 
the rising ground betwixt us and the deer, looking at every 
step to the right and to the left, and raising himself as if 
by inches, with his head thrown back so as to bring his 
eyes to as high a level as possible. Having, at length, 
caught a view of the deer's horns, he satistied himself that 
he had not moved, and having sunk down as gradually and 
slowly as he rose, that he might not by any sudden move- 
ment attract the attention of the deer, he returned to us, 
and again led the way ; and, after performing a very 
considerable circuit, moving sometimes forwards, and some- 
times backwards, we at length arrived at the back of a 
hillock, on the opposite side of which, he informed us in a 
whisper, that the deer was lying, and that, from the spot 
where we then stood, he was not distant 100 yards. Most 
of the party seemed inclined to doubt this information, for 
they verily believed that the deer was at least half a mile 
to the right ; but Finlay's organ of locality was so visibly 
and strongly developed, and his practice in deer-stalking so 
great, that the doubts of the party were suppressed, if not 


altogether removed. Buskar, however, soon put the matter 
be3^ond question, for raising his head, he bounded forwards, 
and almost escaped from the person who held him. No 
time was to be lost : the whole party immediately moved 
forward in silent and breathless expectation, with the dogs 
in front, straining in the slips ; and on our reaching the top 
of the hillock, we ffot a full view of the noble stag, who, 
having heard our footsteps, had sprung to his legs, and 
was staring us full in the face, at the distance of about 
sixty yards. 

The dogs were slipped ; a general halloo burst from the 
whole party, and the stag wheeling round, set off at full 
speed, with Buskar and Bran straining after him. 

The brown figure of the deer, with his noble antlers laid 
back, contrasted with the light colour of the dogs stretching 
along the dark heath, presented one of the most exciting 
scenes that it is possible to imagine. 

The deer's first attempt was to gain some rising ground 
to the left of the spot where w^e stood, and rather behind 
us ; but, being closely pursued by the dogs, he soon found 
that his only safety was in speed ; and (as a deer does not 
run well up hill, nor like a roe, straight down hillj, on the 
dogs approaching him, he turned, and almost retraced his 
footsteps, taking, however, a steeper line of descent than 
the one by which he ascended. Here the chase became 
most interesting ; the dogs pressed him hard, and the deer, 
getting confused, found himself suddenly on the brink of a 
small precipice of about fourteen feet in height, from the 
bottom of which there sloped a rugged mass of stones. He 
paused for a moment, as if afraid to take the leap, but the 
dogs were so close that he had no alternative. 

At this time the party were not above 150 yards dis- 
tant, and most anxiously waited the result, fearing from 
the ruggedness of the ground below that the deer would 
not survive the leap. They were, however, soon relieved 
from their anxiety ; for though he took the leap, he did so 
more cunningly than gallantly, dropping himself in the 
most singular manner, so that his hind legs first reached the 
broken rocks below : nor were the dogs long in following 
him ; Buskar sprang first, and, extraordinary to relate, did 


not lose his legs; Bran followed, and, on reaching the 
ground, performed a complete somerset ; he soon, however, 
recovered his legs ; and the chase was continued in an 
oblique direction down the side of a most rugged and rocky 
brae, the deer apparently more fresh and nimble than ever, 
jumping through the rocks like a goat, and the dogs well 
up, though occasionally receiving the most fearful falls. 

From the high position in which we were placed, the 
chase was visible for nearly half-a-mile. When some rising 
round intercepted our view, we made with all speed for -a 
higher point, and, on reaching it, we could perceive that 
the dogs, having got upon smooth ground, had gained on 
the deer, who was still going at speed, and were close 
up with him. Bran was then leading, and in a few seconds 
was at his heels, and immediately seized his hock with such 
violence of grasp, as seemed in a great measure to paralyse 
the limb, for the deer's speed was immediately checked. 
Buskar was not far behind, for soon afterwards passing 
Bran, he seized the deer by the neck. Notwithstanding 
the weight of the two dogs which were hanging to him, 
having the assistance of the slope of the ground, he con- 
tinued dragging them along at a most extraordinary rate 
(in defiance of their utmost exertions to detain him), and 
succeeded more than once in kicking Bran off. But he be- 
came at length exhausted ; the dogs succeeded in pulling 
him down, and, though he made several attempts to rise, 
he never completely regained his legs. 

On coming up, we found him perfectly dead, with the 
joints of both his fore-legs dislocated at the knee, his throat 
perforated, and his chest and flanks much lacerated. 

As the ground was perfectly smooth for a considerable 
distance round the place where he fell, and not in any de- 
gree swampy, it is difficult to account for the dislocation of 
his knees, unless it happened during his struggles to rise. 
Buskar was perfectly exhausted, and had lain down, shak- 
ing from head to foot, much like a broken-down horse ; but 
on our approaching the deer, he rose, walked round him 
with a determined growl, and would scarcely permit us to 
approach him. He had not, however, received any cut or 
injury; while Bran showed several bruises, nearly a square 


inch having been taken off the front of his fore-leg, so that 
the bone was visible, and a piece of burnt heather had 
passed quite through his foot. 

Nothing could exceed the determined courage displayed 
by both dogs, particularly by Buskar, throughout the chase, 
and especially in preserving his hold, though dragged by 
the deer in a raost violent manner. This, however, is but 
one of the many feats of this fine dog. He was pupped in 
autumn, 1832, and, before he was a year old, killed a full- 
grown hind single-handed. 

The deer was carried to the nearest stream, which was at 
at no great distance, for the purpose of being washed ; 
which ceremony, being performed, we sat down to lunch in 
great spirits with the result of our day's sport ; and having 
concluded with a bumper to the success of our next chase, 
our only remaining duty was to convey our deer to the 
cave, a distance of two miles, by the nearest way through 
the moor. The stag weighed upwards of seventeen stone, 
but our stout Highlanders, by relieving each other alter- 
nately, carried it this distance in the space of little more 
than an hour. We then took boat, and in a couple of hours 
were again on shore in Colonsay. 

The speed of a deer may be estimated as nearly equal to 
that of a hare, thous^h in coursino^ the latter, from its turn- 
ings and windings, more speed is probably required than in 
coursing the former ; but, on the other hand, if a dog is in 
any degree blown when he reaches a deer, he cannot pre- 
serve his hold, nor recover it if it is once lost; indeed, 
it is only from his superior speed and bottom that a dog 
can continue to preserve his hold, and thus by degrees to 
exhaust the deer, till at length he is enabled to pull him 

This great power of endurance is only to be found in a 
thorough-bred greyhound; for even though a cross-bred 
dog might succeed in fastening on a deer, he seldom has 
the speed or endurance necessary for preserving his hold ; 
and should he receive a fall, will, in all probability, suffer 
much more than a greyhound, whose elasticity of form is 
better calculated to endure such shocks. 

Perhaps the greatest advantage possessed by superiority 


of speed is, that the dog runs less risk of injury ; for so 
long as the deer has the power of movement, he will not 
turn round, or attempt to defend himself with his horns, 
but endeavours to fly from his pursuers until they have 
fastened on him, and are enabled, by seizing some vital 
part, to pull him down ; whereas a cross-bred dog, who has 
not sufficient speed for a deer, and succeeds only in running 
him down by the nose (and that after a long chase), finds 
the deer at bay, with his back against some rock ; in this 
situation, no dog can possibly attack a deer with the slightest 
chance of success. In fact, so skilfully does he use his horns 
in defence, and with such fury does he rush upon the dogs, 
that none can get to close quarters with him without the 
certainty of instant death. In this position, indeed, he could, 
without difficulty, destroy a whole pack. When running 
obliquely down a hill (which is a deer's forte), no dog can 
equal him, particularly if the ground is rough and stony ; 
and, in such a situation, a dog, without great roughness of 
feet, is perfectly useless. It is therefore advisable not to let 
loose a dog at a deer in a lofty situation, as the ground is 
generall}^ most rugged near the tops of the hills, and the 
dogs run a great risk of being injured. On the other hand, 
in low and level grounds, a dog is an overmatch for a deer 
in speed, and, as the deer generally attempts to make for 
the high grounds for security, and is a bad runner up hill, 
the dog has a decided advantage when slipped at a deer in 
such a situation. 

It must be a subject of regret to the sportsman and 
naturalist that this noble race of dogs is fast dying away, 
and will, in the course of a few years, inevitably become 
extinct, unless some extraordinary exertions are niade on 
the part of those who are still possessed of the few that 

Should they once be lost, it is difficult to imagine how 
any race of dogs can again be produced possessing such a 
combination of qualities. 



[Chiefly from the Communication of Mr. Taylor.] 

The bounds of the Sutherland forests have been much 
limited of late years, as a necessary consequence of the 
improved system of sheep-farming which has universally 
taken place. 

Recurring to former days, the two largest and most 
important of these forests were the Dirrie-Chatt and the 

The Dirrie-Chatt, or the forest of Sutherland proper, 
was, according to its ancient boundaries, a very extensive, 
varied, and celebrated hunting forest ; it extended parallel 
with the eastern coast of Sutherland, and at a short distance 
from it, and it included the interior parts of the county 
towards the west and north, until it joined the Dirrie-More, 
and thence passed in an easterly direction to Caithness, 
along the old boundary with Strathnaver. 

An elevated tract of ground from Ben-Leod, near the 
confines of Assynt, runs eastward through the centre of the 
county of Sutherland to Ben-Griam-Beg, and from thence 
to the heights of Knockfin, at the march between Suther- 
land and Caithness ; and this natural feature of the interior 
of the country was, with some slight variations, the northern 
boundary of the Dirrie-Chatt. This central ridge is marked 
by mountains, with intervals of table land ; and the rains 
that fall on these high and continuous summits, find their 
way in streams or torrents in different directions to the 
€ast, or to the north coasts of the county: part of these 
waters form the sources of the rivers that pass into the 


German Ocean; and the remainder, the sources of others 
that enter the Ocean, along the north coast of Sutherland, 
from the river Hope to the confines of Caithness. 

These were considered the ancient boundaries, but others 
somewhat different were adjusted, when Lord Reay was 
proprietor of Edrachilles. 

Ben Klibreck, which rises to an elevation of 3,200 feet, 
is situated to the north of this ridge, and forms the dominant 
object in the scenery. Although one of its shoulders 
separates Loch Naver from the romantic and lonely waters 
of Loch Veallach and Loch Corr, part of the grounds on 
the east side of these two lakes, as well as the wild solitudes 
between them and the mountain, were not comprehended 
within the Dirrie-Chatt, because the waters of Corrie-na- 
farn, and of the two lochs, all fall into the river Naver, by 
the river Meallart. Ben Klibreck, and the romantic features 
around it, formed of themselves a separate and celebrated 

From the southern base of Ben Klibreck, above Strath 
Baggestie, the boundary of the Dirrie-Chatt proceeded to a 
place called Garslary, and passing close to Craigna-lochan, 
kept along the eastern side of Loch Veallach and Loch 
Corr, including within the Ben Ormin forest the finely 
wooded side of Loch Orr, called Tugarve, one of the most 
favourite harbours for deer in that romantic district, 
covered, as it is, with thriving natural birch wood, for an 
extent of about six miles. Corrie-na-farn, and an outskirt 
of Truderscaig, originally followed the Klibreck forest, 
although the Ben Ormin foresters hunted without opposi- 
tion on the shores of Loch Corr. 

From the north end of Loch Corr, the boundary of the 
Dirrie-Chatt followed the river Meallart, which flows from 
that loch ; making a sharp angle at Truderscaig, it then 
proceeded to the north of the loch of that name, including 
Holmaderry, the whole of which is within the Ben Ormin 
forest ; from thence it went on in a direction nearly parallel 
to the river Naver, as far as the Ravigil rocks. Within 
these bounds is the celebrated mountain Ben Ormin, in 
former times the spot selected and preserved for the 
exclusive hunting of the earls of Sutherland. 


Ben Ormin is 2,500 feet high, and between its lumpish 
shoulders, called Craig-More and Craig-Dhu, lies what was 
formerly one of the most celebrated deer passes in the north 
of Scotland. From the Ravigil rocks, the boundary passed 
into Ben Maedie, including the whole of Ben-Griam-More, 
and, continuing along the summit of Ben-Griam-Beg, pro- 
ceeded towards the Beallach-More, leading into Caithness 
at the height of Knockfin. The hilly ridge that separates 
Caithness from Sutherland is strongly defined, and forms 
the eastern boundary of the Dirrie-Chatt, from the heights 
of Knockfin to the bold headland of the Ord. 

From the head of the Ord, the southern line of march of 
the Dirrie-Chatt followed the mountain belt that skirts the 
low cultivated land along the coast as far as Craig-More, 
near the mouth of the river Fleet ; and thence it proceeded 
westward by the side of the valley of the Fleet, and along 
the hilly ground north of Rhine, and of Lairg Church, as 
far as Loch Shin ; passing still westward along the whole 
extent of this lake to Corry-Kinloch, and thence to Ben- 
Leod, where the description of the boundaries of Dirrie- 
Chatt commenced. 

Such w^ere the ancient boundaries of this extensive forest, 
which stretched from Ben-Leod to the Ord of Caithness, a 
distance of about fifty miles. Its breadth varied from ten 
to thirty miles. It comprehended within its limits the 
following five minor forests, which had their separate annals 
and traditions : — 1. The forest of Ben-Griam; 2. the forest 
of Sledale ; 3. the forest of Ben-Horn ; 4. the forest of Ben- 
Ormin ; 5. the forest of Ben-Hee. 

The great forest of Dirrie-More diflfers essentially in its 
scener}' from all the other forests in Scotland ; less in extent 
than the Dirrie-Chatt which adjoins it, all its parts are 
broken and disjointed in a singularly wild and abrupt 
manner; and so uniform is this character, that any one 
section of the interior solitudes of the Dirrie-More would 
afford a correct counterpart of all the other features of this 
wilderness of mountains. 

Rocky and precipitous masses, separated by ballochs or 
narrow passes ; deep and desolate glens, with vast masses of 


mountain wrecks restino^ their bulk on the level ; streams 
oozing through beds of moss; torrents rushing down the 
steep ravines ; black lakes, highland tarns, and deep 
morasses : — these are, in comprehensive terms, the charac- 
teristic objects that force themselves into notice throughout 
the extensive range of the Dirrie-More. 

Every part of this forest is destitute of wood, except the 
west side of Ben-Hope, the sides of Stack, and the shores of 
Loch-More, which are partly covered with brushwood. It 
was not thus, however, in former times. The boundaries of 
the Dirrie-More extended from Ben-Leod to the head of 
Glen-Dhu ; thence to the head of Loch-Laxford, the head of 
Loch-Inchard, and by the Gualin, and the deep valley 
beyond it, to the head of the bay of Durness, and then on 
by the balloch leading to Loch-Eriboll. 

The east side of Loch-Eriboll, with Ben-Hutig and the 
Moin, as far as Strathmelness, formed part of the forest ; 
and from the head of the bay of Tongue the boundary went 
by Loch-Loyal, including Ben-Loyal, and then turned west- 
ward to the end of Loch-Maedie ; from whence it proceeded 
near the foot of the high ground to the westward, until it 
reached Ben-Hee, and thence, by the march of Ben-Hee 
forest, it passed by Loch-Merkland to Ben-Leod. 

The extreme length of this range from north to south is 
about thirty miles, and its general breadth is about twenty ; 
but near both extremities it does not exceed ten miles. 
Several mountains stand dominant within the above 
boundaries, and give their names to three forests, which are 
included within the general range, although they had 
distinct divisions, and were under the charge of separate 
foresters. The names of these forests are, — 1. The forest of 
Ben-Hope ; 2. the forest of Fionaven ; 3. the forest of Arkle 
and Stack. The altitude of these mountains, from which the 
above forests derive their names, will give some idea of the 
character of the country. Ben-Hope is 3,061 feet high ; 
Fionaven, 3,015 ; Ben-Spionnue, in the same forest, 2,566. 
The mountains of Arkle and Stack I have no measure of, 
but believe they are of no great height. 

There are three minor detached forests in Sutherland, 


which are not included in the great ones of the Dirrie-Chatt 
and the Dirrie-More, — 1. The Parph ; 2.* the forest of 
Klibreck ; 3. the Dirrie-Meanach. 

The number of deer that wander over the vast forests of 
Sutherland cannot well be ascertained. About thirty years 
ago an opinion prevailed that it amounted to 3000. The 
introduction of sheep farms, and other causes, have 
materially lessened that number, if, indeed, it was a correct 
one. So that the harts, hinds, and calves, of all ages, taken 
collectively, do not probably, at present, exceed the number 
of 1,500. The calculations of the foresters would lessen 
that number, and the statements of the shepherds would 
increase it, their respective interests being diametrically 

Hunts were occasionally upon a grand scale, in this as 
well as in other forests ir^ Scotland, when the deer were 
collected by scouts, and driven to certain passes. One of 
these was alonoj the side of Craio^more, one of the most 
prominent summits of Ben-Ormin, where there is a station 
still, called " The Earl's Seat," and farther on there is 
another, called " Anojus Baillie's Seat," having: been selected 
by a forester of that name. There are also the remains of 
several ancient hunting lodges, which were chiefly con- 
structed on the islands in the freshwater lakes. 

There seem to have been two modes of killing deer in 
the Sutherland district, quite peculiar to the country — 
one was the erection of an enclosure, called Garruna-bhui 
(the deer dikes) : it was formed of two opposite rough stone 
walls, about a quarter of a mile in length, and 100 yards 
apart at one end, this distance being gradually contracted to 
a narrow opening at the other. The deer having been 
driven in at the wide end in numbers, could not get into the 
moor at the narrow extremity without great delay, and 
thus became an easy prey to the sportsmen. The other 
method alluded to was formerly practised at two extreme 
points of the Sutherland forests. A strong force of men 
collected them in herds near the sea-coast, urged them 
forwards, and, at length, forced them down the cliffs and 
crags, and drove them into the water. Boats were concealed 
amid the rocks, which were put in motion at the proper 


time, and the deer were attacked with such weapi)ns as 
were then in use, for I speak of a period previous to the 
introduction of fire-arms. In this defenceless position of 
the deer, the slaughter must have been considerable, as it is 
probable that spearmen and bowmen occasionally leaped 
from their boats into the waters ; the commotion of the 
waves, the shouting, and the rude mel^e must have exhibited 
a scene little inferior, in wildness of character, to the Indian 
mode of hunting on the Red Lake. 

Sir Robert Gordon states that this mode of hunting was 
practised at the Pharo Head (the present Cape Wrath) and 
adds, " There is another part in Sutherland, in the parish 
of Loth, called Shletadell (Sledale), where there are red 
deer ; a pleasant place for hunting with grew hounds : here 
also, sometymes, they drive the deer into the South Sea, 
and so do kill them." The second place thus alluded to 
must have been the Ord of Caithness, as it is the only part 
of Sledale forest where such singular means could be put in 

Besides sports of this animating description, the chase of 
the wolf was followed, in former times, with considerable 
ardour. Some traditionary notices there are of the destruc- 
tion of the last wolves seen in Sutherland, consisting of four 
old ones and some whelps, which were killed about the 
same time, at three different places, widel}^ distant from 
each other, and as late as between the years of 1G90 and 
1700. Indeed, some of these detested prowlers continued 
to ravage the Northern Highlands, till the disappearance of 
the pine forests deprived them of retreat and shelter. The 
last survivors of this rabid race were destroyed at Auchmore, 
in Assynt, in Halladale, and in Glen-Loth. 

The death of the last wolf and her cubs, on the eastern 
coast of Sutherland, was attended with remarkable circum- 
stances. Some ravages had been committed among the 
flocks, and the howl had been heard in the dead of night, 
at a time when it was supposed the villainous race was 
extinct. The inhabitants turned out in a body, and very 
carefully scoured the whole country; carefully, but not 
successfully, for, after a very laborious search, no wolf could 
be found, and the party broke up. 


A. few days afterwards a man, by the name of Poison, 
who resided at Wester Helmsdale, followed up the search, 
by minutely examining the wild recesses in the neighbour- 
hood of Glen-Loth, which he fancied had not been sufficiently 
attended to before. He was accompanied only by two 
young lads, one of them his son, and the other an active 
herd boy. Poison was an old hunter, and had much experi- 
ence in tracing and destroying wolves and other predatory 
animals : forming his own conjectures, he proceeded at once 
to the wild and rugged ground that surrounds the rocky 
mountain gully which forms the channel of the burn of 
Sledale. Here, after a minute investigation, he discovered 
a narrow fissure in the midst of a confused mass of large 
fragments of rock, which, upon examination, he had reason 
to think might lead to a larger opening or cavern below, 
which the wolf might use as his den. Stones were now 
thrown down, and other means resorted to, to rouse any 
animal that might be lurking within. Nothing formidable 
appearing, the two lads contrived to squeeze themselves 
through the fissure, that they might examine the interior, 
whilst Poison kept guard on the outside. The boys de- 
scended through the narrow passage into a small cavern, 
which was evidently a wolf's den, for the ground was 
covered with bones and horns of animals, feathers, and 
egg-shells, and the dark space w^as somewhat enlivened 
by five or six active wolf cubs. Not a little dubious 
of the event, the voice of the poor boys came up hollow 
and anxious from below communicatins: this intelliofence. 
Poison at once desired them to do their best, and to 
destroy the cubs. Soon after he heard the feeble howling 
of the whelps, as they were attacked below, and saw 
almost at the same time, to his great horror, a full-grown 
wolf, evidently the dam, raging furiously at the cries of 
her young, and now close upon the mouth of the cavern, 
which she had approached unobserved among the rocky 
inequalities of the place. She attempted to leap down, at 
one bound, from the spot where she was first seen : in this 
emergency, Poison instinctively threw himself forward on 
the wolf, and succeeded in catching a firm hold of the 
animal's long and bushy tail, just as the fore part of the 


body was within the narrow entrance of the cavern. He 
had, unluckily, placed his gun against a rock when aiding 
the boys in their descent, and could not now reach it. 
Without apprising the lads below of their imminent peril, 
the stout hunter kept a firm grip of the wolf's tail, which 
he wound round his left arm ; and although the maddened 
brute scrambled, and twisted, and strove with all her miofht, 
to force herself down to the rescue of her cubs, Poison was 
just able, with the exertion of all his strength, to keep her 
from fjoino: forward. In the midst of this sino^ular struofsrle, 
which passed in silence, — for the wolf was mute, and the 
hunter, either from the engrossing nature of his exertions 
or from his unwillingness to alarm the boys, spake not a 
word at the commencement of the conflict, — his son within 
the cave, finding the light excluded from above for so long 
a space, asked in Gaelic, and in an abrupt tone, " Father, 
what is keeping the light from us ?" " If the root of the 
tail breaks," replied he, " you will soon know that." Before 
long, however, the man contrived to get hold of his hunting 
knife and stabbed the wolf in the most vital parts he could 
reach. The enraged animal now attempted to turn and face 
her foe, but the hole was too narrow to allow of this ; and 
when Poison saw his danger he squeezed her forward, keep- 
ing her jammed in, whilst he repeated his stabs as rapidly 
as he could, until the animal, being mortally wounded, was 
easily dragged back and finished.* 

These were the last wolves killed in Sutherland, and the 
den was between Craig-Rhadich and Craig- Voakie, by the 
narrow Glen of Loth, a place replete with oljucts connected 
with traditionary legends. The conflict of Drumderg was 

* Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd, has a story somewhat similar to this, 
which probably he got from the Sutherland drovers ; but, in his desire to 
change the circumstances, and make the tale his own, he has fallen into an 
error which lessens its probability. He introduces a wild boar as the 
animal held back by the tail, and not a wolf, although the tail of that 
animal is proverbially short, and of slender dimensions, and could hardly 
be grasped firmly by the hand ; a sow or boar also invariably roars out 
most lustily when seized or obstructed, and hence the person in Hogg's 
cavern must have known from such sounds the cause of obstruction of the 
light without further inquiry. In Poison's exploit, which was a true one, 
he had the advantage of grasping the long and rough tail of the wolf ; and 
he wounded an animal that dies without complaining as a sow does, and 
which, according to Buff on, * ' never howls under correction like a dog, but 
defends himself in silence, and dies as hard as he lived." 


fought in it. Cairn-Bran stands there, the place where 
Fingal's dog, Bran, was buried, and the holy waters of 
Tober Massan rise from its mosses, which are supposed to 
have cured many diseases. The upright stones of Carriken- 
Chlig^h also stand there, which, as the name denotes, mark 
the graves of orreat men. Nor must we neo-lect to mention 
that stone, of man}^ tons weight, called Clach-macmeas, 
hurled to this spot from a distance of some miles by a young 
plant of the tender a^je of two months. 

It is well known to all who are aware of the Macpherson 
controversy, that poetical notices of Fingal and his warriors 
have descended by oral tradition, from an unknown age to 
the present generation, amongst persons unable to read or 
write, and that such traditions are scattered over the whole 
extent of the Highlands. They are recollected only in 
fragments, and, even in this broken condition, are known 
only to a few of the oldest inhabitants, who imbibed them 
in their infancy. 

Dermid, says one of these traditions, was beloved by the 
wife of one of his friends, but he honourably repelled her 
advances. Whilst travelling with Fingal's party through 
the forest of Ben-hope, she accidentally splashed herself 
with some muddy water ; and being piqued at the slight 
she had met with, " Behold," said she, " the foul water of 
the bog has more spirit than Dermid." This taunt rankled 
in his bosom, and made him reckless of danger. 

The party soon afterwards roused a wild boar, who was 
of such large dimensions, and of so fierce an aspect, that 
none of them dared to encounter him singly. Dermid 
rushed alone upon the furious brute, and, with the assist- 
ance of his dogs, transfixed him with his spear. " Loud 
roared the boar in the midst of his rocks and woods," but 
Dermid alone had the fame of his slaughter. 

In those days it was a test of innocence, if a person sus- 
pected of crime, measured with his bare legs and feet, and 
with impunity, the bristled back of a dead boar, proceeding 
from the tail to the head, against the sharp points of the 
bristles. To this ordeal Dermid cheerfully agreed to sub- 
mit, to satisfy his friends that he had never injured any of 
them. But some invidious person dexterously sprinkled 


poison over the bristles, and these having punctured Der- 
mid's skin, whilst measuring the length of the boar, the 
poison took effect and caused his instant death. 

Grana, another female devoted to Dermid, was present, 
and, in her grief and despair, resolved not to survive her 
lover ; and throwing herself on the point of his sword fell 
lifeless on his body. 

The boar was hurled down the side of Ben-Loyal, and 
buried close to a mountain stream that runs between two 
of the scors or pinnacles of Ben-Loyal, still called Ault- 
Torc (the Burn of the Boar) ; and the hapless Dermid and 
his devoted Grana were buried in one grave, and under some 
trees that grew near the spot. There lies the grey cairn at 
this present day, still held in reverence by the natives : one 
person alone ventured to despoil the trees, but misery and 
misfortune befel him and his family."' 

Angus Baillie, of Uppat, was one of the most noted 
foresters in Sutherland, of whom we have any correct 
account : he signalised himself in many of the conflicts 
which were of common occurrence in former times, and 
particularly in a rocky pass, on the banks of the Black- 
water, where he and two of his companions defeated a 
whole host of Caithness freebooters, with the gun, called 
Glasnabhean, at that time a novel and dreaded engine of 
destruction. Baillie was likewise renowned for his dexterity 
as a bowman and deer-stalker, and thus excited the jealousy 
of one of the midland foresters who went down to Suther- 
land to compete with him. 

This stranger, being recommended to Baillie's superiors, 
talked boastingly of his pre-eminence over the Sutherland 
foresters, either at open feats, or in executing cunning 
devices for overcoming an opponent. Nay, he said he could 
kill more deer than Baillie on his own ground, and finished 
his rhodomontade by saying to his face, " You can no more 
be compared to me, as a forester, than your old shaggy gar- 
ron can, as an animal, be compared to the finest antlered 
stasf on the hills." 

* Another version of the Bas Dhiarmid, or the Death of Dermid, has 
been given by Mr. Grant. 


A day was fixed for their competition, and Baillie accom- 
panied the stranger to Ben-Ormin. 

He thought himself a stronger man than his blustering 
visitor, and was determined to vindicate his slighted prowess 
by making the challenger appear as ridiculous as his boast- 
ing had been offensive : little recked he of the consequences. 

Now this, our Sutherland man, had no aversion to any 
awkward trick or gambol, by means of which he could 
distress his opponent. He was, moreover, learned in tradi- 
tions, and had heard in what manner a Danish giant was 
said to have been captured by a man of diminutive size ; 
he, therefore, privately directed one of his men to kill a 
deer, and to spread the fresh skin of the animal immediately 
within his bothy, with the inner side uppermost: when 
Baillie and his challenger arrived at the door, the latter was 
desired to enter first with many terms of courtesy, and as 
soon as he stepped upon the slippery surface of the fresh 
hide, his heels tripped up, and down he came upon his back. 
Whether or not Angus lent him a helping hand in his tum- 
bling propensity, tradition does not say ; but I should rather 
think he did, for the fall was so heavy, that before he could 
recover himself, the said Angus Baillie, of IJppat, rolled the 
skin round him, and bound him in it with some cords he 
had provided for the purpose. He was sufficiently kind and 
considerate to leave his head free and exposed, nothing 
more; and thus Master Bobadil, or Bodomonte if you please, 
exhibited a pretty fair specimen of an Egyptian mummy, 
or an Italian bambino. 

In what manner the man in durance delivered his senti- 
ments on this touching occasion, tradition does not inform 
us. But, as he could not walk in this plight, Baillie, with 
mock humanity, carried him to Dunrobin Castle on his 
shoulders, where he had previously been taunting and boast- 
ing ; nay, more, when he approached that fair pile, he was 
complaisant enough to give him his full honours, by tying 
a large branching pair of antlers to his shaggy head. The 
stout porter, having then obtained an interview with his 
superior, exclaimed, with mock solemnity : — 

" A wise man is known by the truth of his prophecy, and 
here I, the humble garron, am carrying home the horned 


stag that wandered into strange ground." The stranger 
was liberated by the gentlemen present, and very prudently 
marched home with the least possible delay. 

Hunting parties in the Sutherland forest were formerly 
upon an extended scale ; there may still be seen the ruins 
of two very large hunting lodges, of the description which 
Pennant mentions, in the Strath of Helmsdale, the stones 
of which now form huge cairns : one of these, near Cayn, 
appears to have been 108 feet long and 26 feet broad ; and 
the other, which is at Saliscraggy, measures 174 feet in 
length and 26 in breadth, and is situated on a very pleasant 
bank of the river Helmsdale, near the old Strath road. 

But I have lingered a long while in this romantic country ; 
more, much more could I add did my limits allow of it, for 
the assistance which has been so obligingly conferred upon 
me, and which I have acknowledged in the preface to these 
pages, has been most able and ample ; but I must now con- 
clude, adding only in the words of Sir Robert Gordon, " The 
bodies and mynds of the people of this province (Suther- 
land) are indued with extraordinarie abilities of nature; 
they are great hunters and do delyte much in that exercise, 
which makes them hardened to endure travell and labour." 


The extensive estate of Lord Lovat, which ranges west- 
wards from his residence of Beaufort Castle, near Beauly, 
forms the northern boundary of Inverness-shire, for a long 
distance dividing it from the county of Ross, and having 
long been the abode of deer, the appropriation of a large 
space to their exclusive possession has established a good 
forest; which the judicious care of the noble proprietor, 
himself a first-rate shot, and good stalker, will continue to 
improve. With the boundaries of the Chisholm country I 
am not acquainted. 

The wild country of Strath-Conan, on which we enter to 
the north, is the commencement of the county of Ross, 


through the whole of the highland parts of which, with 
little exception, as well as through the adjoining wilds of 
Sutherland, it would be difficult to find any district not more 
or less tenanted by, the red deer. 

The division of Strath-Conan was long held in unenviable 
notoriety, as the main stronghold of the illicit distiller in 
the north of Scotland, a celebrity which it has only lost in 
recent years. The memory of this may possibly ere long 
have passed away, but the deer-stalker, who is made aware 
that the scene of Mr. James Baillie Fraser's tale of the 
"Highland Smugglers" is laid in the Lovat forest, and 
adjacent recesses of Strath-Conan, will hardly forget it. To 
the lovers of romantic fictions, connected with scenes of 
Nature, and to all those whose spirit is excited by the deep 
interest which patriotism and tradition have thrown around 
the "land of the mountain and the flood," these volumes 
will possess undying charms. 

To the west of Strath-Conan lie the two great districts of 
Applecross* and Gairloch, containing a vast extent of the 
most rugged mountain scenery. A great part of it is, of 
course, utterly unimprovable, and, indeed, inaccessible, — 
thus afl^ording to the deer a secure retreat ; while the fine 
valleys of the west, which lie between the hills, oflfer 
abundant pasture. In this part of Ross-shire the deer are 
abundant, and the thorough knowledge of the sport and 
unerring rifles of Sir Francis Mackenzie, of Gairloch, and 
his brothers, have brought in many a noble stag to Flower- 
dale, the picturesque residence of his family. The singular 
beauty of this place, which is a small glen, or opening, among 
the wildest hills, crowded with trees and shrubs of the 
richest foliage, and decked on one side by the silvery sand 
and bright waters of the north-west coast, make it, includ- 
ing, as it does, the magnificent Loch-Maree in its neighbour- 
hood, an object well worthy of the traveller's toil. 

Deer-stalking is here, however, a truly laborious sport, 
and requires more than ordinary skill and perseverance. 
One of the luckiest shots which the writer remembers, was 
made here, in 1832, by the Honourable Edwin Lascelles, 

*A separate description of Api)lecross will be given in the following 


who brought down a stag, in full trot, at 812 yards, being 
his first essay in the sport. 

We next cross the long valley which extends from 
Dingwall, at the head of the Firth of Cromarty, by Achna- 
sheen and Loch-Maree, to the west coast, and enter upon 
the heart of Ross-shire, no part of which is without deer, 
nor likely to be so, while the old Balnagown, or Freevater 
forest, which forms its centre, exists. Groinyard has its 
deer, so has Achnasheen, and the hills near Loch-Luichart ; 
and the comparatively small forest of Fannich, lately a part 
of the Cromarty estate, is perhaps as sure a place for the 
sport, if kept clear of sheep, as any in Scotland. Coul,* 
the residence of Sir George Mackenzie, Bart., and Brahan 
Castle, the residence of the family of Seaforth, both wdthin 
seven miles of Dingwall, are seldom without deer in their 
woods, and these noble denizens of the forest may frequently 
form part of a day's sport, at either of these places, with 
pheasants, partridges, etc., and all the variety of low country 
shooting. It is almost needless to add, that driving is the 
mode in practice here, — the thick cover precluding stalking, 
except in rare instances. 

Crossing all these large rans^es of hills we enter the 
Balnagown forest, or Freevater, i.e., the forest of Walter, 
one of the chiefs of that ancient house. 

The mountains in this district are very lofty, and abound 
on their summits with those broken mossy tracts, where the 
experienced deer-stalker looks with increasing expectation 
for his game. It is much to be regretted that hardly any 
part of this fine forest is kept properly clear of sheep ; 
thouoch this is doubtless one cause of the increasinoj numbers 
of the deer in neighbouring places. 

They are accordingly found in Loch-Broom, on the estates 
of Castle-Leod, Sir Hugh Munro of Foulis, Munro of Novar, 
and Davidson of Tulloch, in sufficient numbers to make the 
pursuit of them a constant sport. 

The estate of Foulis, comprising the greater part of the 
lofty range of Ben-Weavis, should perhaps be more specially 

*A separate notice of the beautiful possessions of Coul will follow this 
general account of the deer-haunts in Ross-shire. 


mentioned, as capable of being made, by the exclusion of 
sheep, a sure resort for red deer. 

From the Freevater forest, the deer have lonf]j since 
stragofled into the larofe fir woods in Easter Ross, which are 
in the neigrhbourhood of Balnaorown Castle, and Calrossie, 
and though they may wander, in many instances, between 
these woods and their original forest, they have now com- 
pletely established themselves there, dwelling and feeding 
amid much interruption from the proximity of population, 
for which, however, experience has shown that the red deer, 
in the shelter of his woods, care but little. 

To the west of the Freevater forest there remains of Ross, 
or rather of Cromartyshire, the wild district of Coigach, a 
part of the Cromarty estate, and the property of the Honour- 
able Mrs. Hay Mackenzie ; and the deer-stalker, who loves 
the sport in perfection, will be glad to learn that the son of 
this lady has devoted a considerable part of Coigach as a 
forest for the deer ; intending to build a lodge there, at 
Rhidorach, a situation of much natural beauty. 

The isles of Lewis and Harris contain a large number of 
deer ; and in the former. Sir Frederick Johnstone, Bart., 
who rents the game, has, together with his friends, done 
great execution ; but these deer, I am told, are inferior in 
size, existing, as they do, in an ungenial and unproductive 
country, though the climate is fitter perhaps for raising their 
food than that of man. 


[Obligingly Communicated by Sir George Stuart Mackenzie, Bart., 
the Proprietor.} 

There are few country residences so favourably situated 
for sport as Coul. Between breakfast and dinner time you 
may have amusement with every kind of game, except 
ptarmigan, which are too remote. I have mj^self, says the 
proprietor, brought in a couple of salmon, and a stag has 
been shot, both within an hour after leaving the house. 
The increase in the numbers of red and roe deer has been 


remarkable. Twenty years ago, it was a rare thing to meet 
with either. It was supposed that the introduction of sheep 
had driven them away; but though this may have been 
one great cause, it was neither the sheep nor the shepherds, 
nor their dogs, that occasioned the extreme scarcity, but the 
great extent to which poaching was carried — every High- 
lander having formerly been in possession of a gun of some 
sort or another. At the residence of Coul there are still 
preserved some pieces of strange and uncouth appearance, 
which have at various times been employed on this service. 
Many of them have Spanish barrels, perhaps relics of the 
Armada ; some are of French construction ; and many a 
gun that had made a noise during the civil wars and rebel- 
lions was turned against the stately rangers of the moun- 
tains. Nay, in modern times, muskets that had graced the 
shoulders of volunteers of our own day, by some means or 
another, had escaped being restored to the armoury of the 
Tower of London, and remained for eifficient ball-practice, 
as well as for sending showers of small shot amongst 
grouse and black game. In proportion to the increase of 
sheep-farming, the numbers of Highland sportsmen were 
diminished ; and to this I attribute the recent very rapid 
increase of the deer. The attention of English sportsmen 
was called to them, and the protection since given, has, in 
some districts, rendered them a nuisance to the farmers. 

There are several districts in Ross-shire where deer are 
stalked ; but at Coul they carry on the war by what is 
called a " tinckel," which, in practice, signifies a drive 
towards particular spots, or passes. The scenery is very 
beautiful, and to some points where the guns are usually 
stationed, the access is so easy that ladies may witness the 
sport. It is a very fine sight, says Sir George, to see a herd 
emerge from one part of the wood and scour the open space; 
sometimes occupying a knoll and reconnoitering, and then 
dividing into parties, and making for other shelter. Their 
movements are so exciting, that killing the creatures is not 
always thought of; and the sportsmen sometimes become 
so nervous, that they mistake distance, and either miss a 
near shot, or do not fire at all. Again, a deer has been 
known to run a-muck along some hundred yards of an 

APPLECR088. 29." 

opeiiing in the wood, and to receive five balls before he fell. 
Thus many are lost, which retire to thickets when wounded, 
where they die. 

The hill of Tor-Achilty, close to the beautiful residence 
of Coul, abounds with deer. It is finely varied, and there 
is a small lonely lake at its foot ; the hills around are 
covered with birch and oak trees for miles, and deer are 
found on all of them. Two rivers meet at the base of the 
hills, and the herds are thus in a manner confined, so that 
their haunts and ways are perfectly known. Occasionally, 
though the passes be well watched, not a shot will be fired ; 
and, at other times, much powder and ball is expended in 
vain. Yet there is always some consolation — the deer were 
seen, — had a slight change of position been made, a shot 
would have been got — and so forth. 

Fallow deer are in a wild state in the vicinity of the 
mansion, and they are sometimes seen in the most dis- 
tant woods. A good many years ago part of the fence of 
Lord Seaforth's deer-park gave way, and all his lordship's 
deer escaped to the woods. They are not, however, dis- 
persed to any great distance. 


The forest of Applecross lies in Ross-shire, and is compre- 
hended in a circuit of great extent ; its boundaries may be 
traced passing from the north to the east, and so on to the 
south and south-west, from Inverbain round by Loch 
Loundy, Beinn Vaan, Cairn-Derg, Coir-nan- a-rog, Coir- 
na-ba. Coir Scammadale to Solchmore, or Red River, a dis- 
tance of fifty miles ; then again completing the circle, by 
proceeding from the south-west towards the north and east, 
and passing from Red River, Beinn-horornaid (or Fairy 
Bridge), Avy Broch Coir, Bhuochroch, Garry Vaul, Coir 
Glass, Craikvein, to Loch Gannich, a further distance of 
forty miles. 

The Sanctuary, Coir-Attadale, from north-west to south- 
€ast, is six miles long, and there are various warm and 
fertile corries in all directions, which the deer delio^ht in. 


Ault-More, or the Big Burn, is picturesquely wooded; and, as 
well as Ault-Beg, or the Little Burn, is a favourite retreat 
of the denizens of the forest. The mosses are everywhere 
remarkably fertile, and contain innumerable lochs ; even 
the highest hills afford good pasture, and are scattered over 
with the sea-daisy and other plants. The corries and burn 
sides are still more rich and verdant. 

The numerous lochs in this forest are not only oramental, 
but valuable for their produce. Loch Coir-Attadale, which 
empties itself by means of the excellent fishing river 
of Applecross, is stocked both with loch and sea-trout. 
Loch Gannich, Loch Na-creig, and Loch Na-long, are like- 
wise amply furnished with the same delicacies, and many 
of the smaller lakes derive their names from the size and 
quality of the fish which they contain. The hills in this 
fine district are strikingly picturesque, and nothing can 
surpass the beauty of the strath of Applecross. 

The deer forest was established about seventy years ago ; 
the quantity of deer it contains at present cannot well be 
ascertained, but it has been represented to me as very great. 
They are scattered over their favourite hill sides in such 
numbers, that when put in motion, and scampering away, 
they give a character and animation to the scenery quite 
in keeping with the magnitude of the objects around them. 

The anecdotes, which have been obligingly sent me 
relating to the sports in this forest, are such only as 
are of usual occurrence. They use the rough stag-hound, or 
lurcher of the country for wounded deer. 

I have received no general account of the weight of these 
deer ; but, judging from the size of others on the western 
coast, I am inclined to estimate it at a high rate, particularly 
as it is recorded that Thomas, the first laird of Applecross 
of that name, killed two stags a few years before his death, 
that had been destroying the corn a short distance from 
the mansion-house, whose weight was sixty pounds the 



The Glengarry forest is situated in Inverness-shire, and is 
about seven miles long from east to v^^est. On the north it 
is bounded by Glen Loing, and on the south by the ridges 
of the hill.* Part of the ground consists of good pasture, 
with rich meadow land on the banks of the river ; on the 
northern part there is long heather and reed, and near the 
top of the ridges, much sweet grass, of which the deer are 
particularly fond. The whole of this extent has been 
preserved from sheep for about forty-six years, and is still 
retained as a forest, generally known by the name of 
" Eisnich." Stags, however, are not found in it in great 
numbers, except in the rutting season. The late Glengarry 
preserved the greater part of this ground as a " Sanctuary," 
never permitting any one to hunt in it, even in pursuit of 
a wounded deer; thus, when the game was disturbed on 
the neighbouring hills, they made towards this spot as their 
refuge. The pasture being good, the climate comparatively 
mild, and the snow never lying long on the ground, are 
circumstances so favourable, that the deer attain to a large 
size. The late Glengarry killed a hart, which weighed 
twenty-six stone, and the present proprietor, another of the 
weight of twenty-four stone five pounds, both weighed 
after the gralloch had been taken out. The latter deer had 
previously been wounded in the shoulder by the same 
gentleman about ten days before the last decisive shot, by 
which occurrence he was somewhat wasted. 

The mode of killing deer at present practised in this 
forest is such as would naturally be used in any other 
ground of a similar nature. They are stalked on the hills, 
and in the lower ground the woods are driven, whilst the 
passes are occupied by the rifle-men. Formerly there were 
grand hunts, when the herd was driven into lake Dulachan 
by a strong cordon of men, and the slaughter took place in 
its waters. 

The late Glengarry, amongst other things, was celebrated 

* By the hill, I believe, is meant the general mountain range which rises 
from the Strath. 



for the excellence of his deer-hounds : who, indeed, has not 
heard of the remarkable feats of Hector ? He tried various 
crosses, particularly with a small blood-hound ; and their 
capacity of following a cold scent is said to have been so 
wonderful, that one of them actually pursued a wounded 
deer for the space of three days, the hunters at nightfall 
stopping at the last distinct impression of the deer's hoof, 
and covering it with stones ; when the stones were removed 
at daylight, the hound was put upon the scent, and went 
forward as keenly as ever/" 

Many of Glengarry's dogs met the fate common to all 
high-couraged ones, and were occasionally wounded by the 
antlers of the stag at bay, or fell over precipices in turning 
a sharp corner during the heat of the chase. 

With what romantic ardour the late Glengarry followed 
up the exciting amusement of deer-stalking, is well known 
throughout Scotland. He would go forth in his kilt, and 
remain on the hills for a week together, sleeping in the 
open air. When the stag was at bay, he would sometimes 
have a close engagement with him, using his gun-stock, or 
skene-dhu, and, though often in peril, was ever successful. 
Stout-hearted and enthusiastic as he was, nothing could 
obstruct his course : when his dogs once held a stag at bay 
in an island in Loch Garry, no boat being at hand, he placed 
a knife in his handkerchief, which he bound round his head, 
swam lustily through the waters, and completed his victory. 
This was wild sport, indeed ; but he had an adventurous 
and a gallant spirit, and was a true son of the mountains. 


At page 100 will be found an account of the former posses- 
sions of the Earls of Huntly. As some changes of conse- 
quence have taken place in latter times, perhaps it may be 
as well to note the more modern measurement and divisions 

* It must be borne iii mind that a wounded deer would not hurry on 
unless closely pressed, so that the scent was not so stale as it would appear 
from this account. 


■of this wild tract, precisely as I have received them from 
another quarter : should there be any discrepancy between 
the two accounts, the changes above mentioned, and the 
difference between computed and actual measure, will easily 
-account for it. 


in the parish of Kingussie and county of Inverness, is 
bounded on the south and south-east by the forests of Marr 
and Atholl ; on the west, by the forest of Gaick ; and on the 
south by the estate of Invereshie ; by survey in 1770, it 
<iontained 13,706 Scots acres. It was let in 1752 to Mr. 
Macpherson of Invereshie, and continued to be rented by 
that family until 1812, when it was purchased from the 
Duke of Gordon by Mr. Macpherson of Invereshie and 
Ballindalloch. It has been pastured by cattle and sheep 
since 1752. 


in the parish of Kingussie and county of Inverness, is 
bounded on the south and west by the forest of Atholl, on 
the east by the forest of Feiaar, and the estate of Invereshie, 
^nd on the north by the lands of Invertruim, Ruthven, 
!Noid, Phoness, and Glentruim. It contains three lakes 
stocked with char and large trout, and salmon are occasion- 
ally found in them, ascending by the water of Iromie from 
the Spey. By survey in 1770, it contained 10,777 acres. 
It was let in 1782 as a sheep-walk to Robert Stewart of 
Garth for nineteen years. In 1804« it was let to Colonel 
Gordon of Invertruim, who occupied it as a grazing till 
1814, when the Marquis of Huntly got it from his father as 
a deer forest. In 1830 it w^as purchased by Mr. Macpherson. 
Grant, of Ballindalloch, from the Gordon trustees, and it is 
now let to Sir Joseph Radcliffe, Bart., who strictly preserves 
it as a deer forest, and has an excellent shooting lodge near 
the centre of the ranore. 


in the parisli of Kingussie and county of Inverness, is 
bounded on the south by the west forest of Atholl, on the 
west by the Duke of Atholl's and Sir Neill Menzies's pro- 
perties, and on the north and east b}^ the lands of Glentruim. 


and Cluny. By survey in 1770, it contained 5,782 Scots 
acres, exclusive of Beinalder, which forms a part of it, and 
contains 14,927 acres. It was let for pasture to Lachlan 
Macpherson in 1773. In 1829 it was purchased from the 
Gordon trustees, along with the lands of Glentruim, by 
Major Ewen Macpherson, of the H. E. I. S., and is occupied 
as a sheep-walk and grouse shooting range. Beinalder is 
now the property of Ewen Macpherson, Esq. of Cluny, and 
has recently been let to the Marquis of Abercorn as a deer 


in the parish of Kincardine and county of Inverness, con- 
taining 10,173 acres, was formerly a great pine forest. It 
is bounded on the south by the forests of Glenavon and 
Marr. It is used now for pasturage. Cairngorm forms part 
of this forest. 


in the parish of Kirkmichael, county of Banff, contains 
22,086 Scots acres. Since 1773 it has been occupied as a 
irrazinof, but it is said that the Duke of Richmond con- 
templates restoring it to a deer forest. It adjoins the forest 
of Marr. 


adjoining Glenavon, 3,396 acres. 


parish of Mortlach, county of Banft', 5,522 acres, is possessed 
by the Duke of Richmond as a deer forest, and has always 
been retained as such by the Gordon family. 

Of all these ancient forests, the last and Gaick are the only 
ones now strictly preserved for deer ; the others are pastured 
by black cattle, or sheep, and are therefore only partially 
stocked with the nobler animals. • 


The Invercauld forest is situated in the parish of Braemar,. 
and county of Aberdeen. Lord Byron's famed Loch-na- 


'Garbh''' is on the extreme east point, and Bein-a-bour, and 
Bein-avon ojuards it on the west and north. The river Dee 
•divides it, flowing from west to east, and its numerous small 
tributaries afford abundance of the finest water for the 
animals grazing within the range. The house of Inver- 
cauld is nearly in the centre of the sport, and may be said 
to be surroundod by the forest ; as through the spring and 
winter months the deer may daily be seen browsing about 
almost within gun-shot of it, and the destruction they do to 
the numerous plantations shows they are at no great 
•distance during the rest of the year. With a glass they 
can be viewed at any time from the windows on the hills 
around. The extreme length of this forest from east to 
west is eighteen miles ; the breadth varies from two to five ; 
it is equal to thirty-four square miles ; the circumference is 
forty-two miles, and it contains 22,186 acres. Within this 
extent you find every description of ground, from the bold 
rocky mountains of 4000 feet in height (on which have 
been found many stones of the topaz and beryl kind), to 
the table land of the district 1,100 feet above the level of 
the sea. The pasture varies from the finest natural grasses 
to the lichen and pure white or grey fog on the summit of 
the hills ; but the heather and ling predominate, and these 
latter are from time to time renewed by burning. With 
abundant shelter from the woods and plantations, and such 
-excellent pasture, no situation can be more favourable for 
the protection of deer. The junction with the Marr Lodge 
forest on the west increases greatly the value of both ; that 
again joining with the Atholl forest, which latter is con- 
tiguous to Gawick, forms altogether a greater extent of 
connected surface, kept expressly for deer, than is to be 
found elsewhere in Britain. A glen, joining the Invercauld 
forest on the east of Loch-na-Garbh, called Glen Gelder, has 
lately been reserved for deer by Sir Robert Gordon, which, 
from the increased extent of ground, and protection it 
affords them, must prove an advantage to both parties. 

* The height of Loch-na-Garbh, according to the proprietor, is 3,824 
feet ; that of Beinn-a-bourd 4,039. Beinn-avon has .S,967 ; and Beinn-a- 
muich-dui, also in the forest, is represented by him as the highest mountain 
in Scotland, being 20 feet higher than Ben-Nevis. The wild character of 
the country may be easily divined from these majestic features. 


There is no tradition how lonor this rano^e has been under 
deer; it has always been considered part of the Royal 
Forest of the old Scottish kings '% and there are still the 
remains of Kindroghit Castle on the Invercauld property, 
vised by Malcolm Canmore as a hunting seat, of which 
mention is made in the notes to Sir Walter Scott's 
" Marmion." It does not exceed twenty years since the 
sheep and other animals were finally cleared off the hills to 
the west, where it joins the Marr Lodge forest. About 
4,200 acres are in wood, the greater part of which, on the 
east side, called the Ballochbui, consists of indigenous pine, 
many centuries old, and of great size. There are several 
hundred hinds which never leave these woods or their 
vicinity ; but it is difficult to estimate the number of deer 
belonging to Invercauld, as it is constantly fluctuating with 
a change of wind. In summer, the prevailing west wind 
frequently takes the greater part of the stags to the Man- 
Lodge forest ; but when the wind returns to the east, or in 
bad weather, hundreds of stags and hinds immediately 
come back ; and in winter and spring the woods are always 
full of them. The roe deer at all times abound in these 
woods. There are no lochs worthy of note in the forest, but 
there are several in the adjoining grouse ground belonging 
to Invercauld, the greater part of which is let in different 
shooting quarters, and all under sheep : when the latter are 
removed from the hills to winter pastures, the deer, parti- 
cularly the stags, frequent great part of it until the sheep 
return in summer. It extends to 112,760 acres, surrounding 
the forest on the north and south, which, when added to it, 
makes a total of 134,946 acres, equal to 210 square miles. 

* There is a letter under the privy seal of James VI., appointing Donald 
Farquharson of Braemar, keeper of the King's forests of Braemar, Cromar, 
and Strath-dee, dated 1584, "with power to him, his deputis, and 
servandis, for quhome he sal be holdin to answer to cause hayne the said 
wodis, forestis, and mureis ; and to serche, seik, tak, and apprehend all 
and quholsumevir personis bantand, or repairand tharin with bowis, 
culveringis, nettis, or any uther instrument meit and convenient for the 
distruction of the deir and the murefowlis ; or with aixis, sawis, or any 
uther instrument or worklunie for cutting or destroying of wood ; and to 
tak the same in for thame and intromit thairwith to his awin use ; and to 
present thair personis to the justice, shiref, or any other ordinar juge to be 
punisheit conforme to the lawis of this realme and generallie, &c. : term 
and stabill to hold, &c., at Falkland, the 11 day of Jully, the year of God 
Ini V Ixxxiv. yeiris." 


and is 108 miles in circumference. The names of the prin- 
cipal lochs are Lochbalader, above a mile in length, Loch 
Kenlader, Loch-nau-eau, famous for its trouts (which are 
of a red colour resembling those of Loch Leven). Loch 
Brotichan, and part of Loch Muich, which is the largest, 
being above two miles long. 

The old method of stalkingr the deer ao-ainst the w^ind is 
the one generally practised in this district : it is not always 
easily done, owing to the numerous eddies which are met 
with among the hills ; and thus it allows great scope for the 
knowing forester in displaying his tact, and in bringing the 
sportsman within shot of his object. In the Ballochbui, 
the deer are frequently, more especially in cold or windy 
weather, to be seen within shot of the drives; and both 
stags and hinds have been often killed by Mr. Farquharson 
from a carriage or a pony. The deer are seldom driven, 
never hunted with dogs, unless to bring down a wounded 
animal. The foresters have small terriers properly trained 
to keep by them when stalking, and these will track a 
wounded deer to a great distance without giving tongue, 
and have been known to find one after two nights and a 
day had elapsed. They answer every purpose, as they bring 
•the sportsman within a second shot without being perceived, 
w^hilst greyhounds, when the object is out of view, cannot 
follow the scent properly ; so that where the ground is stony, 
or in the woods, they are almost always unsuccessful. Such 
greyhounds as are in use are descendants of the Glengarry 
breed, and have been lately crossed with the common fox- 
hound, and also with the bloodhound ; but still the foresters 
prefer the terriers, w^hich are of a very sagacious nature, 
and were brought originally from Ross-shire.* 

The Braemar deer are allowed to be quite different from 
those of the AthoU forest ; they stand higher, and are in 
general of a greater weight. The stags average from four- 
teen to sixteen stone gralloched, but occasionally far exceed 
that, and have weighed (with the inside) as much as twenty- 
five stone of fourteen pounds to the stone. The hinds seldom 

* Probably because they made less disturbance in the forest, which, 
although of a princely extent in point of length, is rather narrow for urging 
the chase in a cross wind. 


exceed eleven stone. The number generally killed at 
Invercauld in the course of the year is about thirty or forty 
stags, and twenty hinds. ^ 


The forest of Marr, in the county of Aberdeen, consists of 
four contiguous glens on the north bank of the Dee, with 
their various branches and ramifications, viz., Glenquoich, 
Glenluie, Glendee, and Glenguildy. 

The extent must, in a great measure, be guessed at, it 
never having been regularly surveyed ; but as far as can be 
ascertained from the opinion of those who know the ground 
well, and have had the best opportunity of judging, it is 
thought the length of the forest may average fifteen miles, 
and the breadth eight, which would give an area of about 
00,000 acres. The bearing of the extreme length runs 
nearly east and west. It is bounded on the north by Glen- 
avon in Banffshire, and the hills of Rothiemurcus and Glen- 
feshie in Inverness- shire ; on the west by part of the forest 
of Atholl and the glen of Baynock ; on the south by the 
river Dee ; and on the east by part of the forest of Inver- 
cauld. The whole is in the county of Aberdeen. The 
principal rivers and streams are the Dee, the Quoich, the 
Luie, and the Guildy. The Quoich branches at the top and 
runs into the Bechan and Duglin burns ; the Luie into the 
Derry and Luibeg; the Dee into the Garchery and Guirachan ; 
and the Guildy into the Davie and the burn of the Cuirn. 
The only lakes worth mentioning are Loch Eatechan on the 
east shoulder of Bein-muirdhui and Loch-nastirtar in Glen- 

The principal mountains beginning on the east are Beina- 
board, Beinachuirn, Beinavrear, Beinamean, Cairngorum, 
Bein Muirdhui, Cairnavaim, Breriach, Cairntoul, Beinavrot- 
tan, Cairn-nealler, and Scarrach ; — they are all composed of 
o-ranite ; and the general character of their surface is dry 
and rocky for a considerable way down their sides ; but 
there are many valleys or corries around their bases con- 
taining good rich hill pasture ; and in the low parts of the 


different glens are haughs of rich natural grass, which, in 
Glenluie and Glenquoich, are well sheltered by very 
extensive tracts of natural pine wood : there is also a con- 
siderable proportion of mossy ground interspersed over the 

The Glenluie was cleared of sheep and cattle, &c., and 
turned into a forest upwards of sixty years ago, and the 
other glens at different and more recent periods. 

The number of deer in the forest must vary to a great 
extent according to circumstances ; but it is supposed that 
there may be a regular stock of about three thousand. 

The weight of the best stags may run from fourteen to 
eighteen stones imperial, and there have been instances of 
some of the largest weighing twenty stones. 

In this forest the deer are for the most part killed by 
stalking, and getting quiet shots, and not by driving them 
to passes, or coursing them with dogs, except when wounded.* 

The breed of deer-hounds chiefly in use is the rough 
wire-haired Scotch or Irish greyhound. 

The present Earl of Fife has tried many spirited experi- 
ments by the introduction of different animals into this 
celebrated forest. He brought over capercalies from the 
north, and they increased to the number of twelve ; but 
when the place was let, and the birds were removed, they 
soon died. He has now procured two more old ones ; and 
has succeeded, I am told, in rearing up another brood. The 
wild boar also was introduced at the advice of the Mar- 
grave of Anspach, who was at Marr Lodge for a fortnight, 
but the experiment did not answer for want of acorns, 
which are their principal food ; if these animals, however, 
were turned out young, the ant-hills, which abound in the 
forest, might probably be an efficient substitute. Rein- 
deer were also introduced by his lordship, but they all 
died, notwithstanding one of them was turned out on the 
summits, which are covered with dry moss, on which it was 
supposed they would be able to subsist. In spite of these 
failures, Lord Fife wished to see if the chamois would live 

* The little disturbance which this method occasions to the forest keeps 
the deer from wandering, though the sport is of a less brilliant description. 


in his alpine domains, and he imported five of these animals 
from Switzerland ; his late Majesty, however, having ex- 
pressed a wish to have them at Windsor, they were accord- 
ingly sent there, w^here they produced young ones. A 
wooden tower was built for them, and they raced up and 
down it as if they had been amongst their native rocks. 
They died from having eaten some poisonous herb, so that 
on all accounts, it is very much to be regretted that they 
w^ere not sent originally to the Marr Forest. 

The remaining trees in Braemar are the last of the Scotch 
pine-forests : their leaves are of a very dark green as com- 
pared with the common Scotch fir. 

I wish the communications I have had the honour of 
receivincj from the Earl of Fife had enabled me to give a 
more detailed account of this magnificent country, and the 
traditions which belong to it. Unfortunately, I have it 
not in my power to supply any further information, and 
shall therefore close this account with an extract from a 
work of Taylor, the Water Poet, entitled " The Pennylesse 
Pilgrimage," relating to a great hunt given by the Earl of 
Marr in 1618. 

" I thank my good Lord Erskine," says the poet ; " hee 
commanded that I should alw^ayes bee lodged in his lodg- 
ing, the kitchen being always on the side of a banke, 
many kettles and pots boyling, and many spits turning and 
winding w^ith great variety of cheere, as venison baked, 
sodden, rost, and stu'de ; beef, mutton, goates, kid, hares, 
fish, salmon, pigeons, hens, capons, chickens, partridge, 
moorcoots, heathcocks, caperkillies, and termagents; good 
ale, sacke, white and claret, tent (or Allegant), and most 
potent aquoevita. 

" All these, and more than these, we had continually in 
superfluous abundance, caught by faulconers, fowlers, 
fishers, and brought by my lords (Mar) tenants and pur- 
veyers to victual our campe, wduch consisted of fourteen or 
fifteen hundred men and horses. 

" The manner of the hunting is this : — five or six hun- 
dred men doe rise early in the morning, and they doe 
disperse themselves divers wayes, and seven, eight, or ten, 
miles compass they doe bring or chase in the deer in many 


lieards (two, three, or four hundred in a heard) to such or 
such a place as the nobleman shall appoint them ; then 
when the day is come, the lords and gentlemen of their com- 
panies doe ride or go to the said places, sometimes wading 
up to the middles through bournes and rivers ; and then 
they, being come to the place, doe lye down on the ground 
till those foresaid scouts, which are called the tinckell, doe 
bring down the deer ; but as the proverb says of a bad cooke, 
so these tinckell men doe lick their own fingers ; for besides 
their bows and arrows, which they carry with them, wee 
can heare now and then a harquebuse or musket goe off, 
which they doe seldom discharge in vaine : then after we 
had stayed three houres, or thereabouts, we might perceive 
the deere appeare on the hills round about us (their heads 
making a shew like a wood), which being followed close 
by the tinckell, are chased down into the valley where wee 
lay ; then all the valley on each side being waylaid with a 
hundred couple of strong Irish greyhounds, they are let 
loose as occasion serves upon the heard of deere, that with 
dogs, gunnes, arrows, durks, and daggers, in the space of 
two houres, fourscore fat deere were slaine, which after are 
disposed of some one way, and some another, twenty or 
thirty miles ; and more than enough left for us to make 
merrey withall at our rendevouse. Being come to our 
lodgings, there was such baking, boyling, rosting, and stew- 
ing as if cook Ruffian had been there to have scalded the 
devill in his feathers." 


The forest of Corrichibah, or the Black Mount, is situated 
in the district of Glenorchy, in Argyllshire. 

It appears from the " Black Book " (an old manuscript at 
Taymouth), and from other documents, to have been kept 
as a deer forest from a very early period, till about the 
time when, by the introduction of sheep on the Highland 
hills, the value of mountain pasture became considerably 
increased. At that period it ceased to be used as a forest. 


and was turned into sheep-farms, in which state it continued 
till the year 1820, when it was again converted into a forest 
by the present Marquis of Breadalbane. 

The number of deer was at that time very small indeed, 
and these were scattered over a very wide district of coun- 
try, namely, from the western extremity of Loch Rannoch 
to the head of Loch Etive on one side, and from Glencoe to 
Ben Aulder and Loch Eroch on the other. At this time it is 
not supposed that the stock of deer could have exceeded one 
hundred head. No sooner, however, was a part of Cor- 
richibah kept clear from sheep, than these deer gathered in ; 
and the number now in Lord Breadalbane's forest cannot be 
computed at less than 1,500. The extent of ground strictly 
kept for deer is about 35,000 acres. It extends on the north 
side from the western extremity of Loch Lydoch, by the 
king's house in Rannoch, to Dulness in Glen Etive ; and on 
the south side from the confines of the county of Perth, by 
Loch TuUa and the River Urchay, to Corri Vicar and Glen- 
ketland. The ground is peculiarly adapted for deer, being 
rocky and steep, and the hills are varied with numerous 
corries. The rocks are mostly granite and porphyry. The 
grass is remarkably fine, and the sheep of the Black Mount 
are greatly esteemed in the Glasgow market. 

The highest hills in the forest are Ben Toag, which rises 
on the north side of Loch Tulla; Stoupgyers, or the Hill of 
Goats ; Clachlig, or the Stony Face ; Sroin-na-forseran, or 
the Forester's Nose; Mealvourie, and the Craish, which 
rises on the south side of Glen Etive. There is a con- 
siderable extent of low orround, about nine miles in length 
by five or six in breadth, extending from the bases of the 
hills on the east side as far as Loch Lydoch. In this low 
ground there is a continued chain of small lochs, called the 
Bah Lochs, in which there are several small wooded islands; 
into these the deer are very fond of going. This low ground 
is of very great service to the forest, both as it affords good 
wintering and very early grass in the spring ; for at that 
period of the year the deer may be seen standing in the 
water picking rushes and grass which grow at the sides of 
the river and lochs. This early grass is of immense im- 
portance to them, and, combined with the strong hill 


pasture, is one of the causes of the excellent condition in 
which the deer of this forest are usually found. 

The stags of the Black Mount exceed those of most of the 
neighbouring forests in point of weight, and may be esti- 
mated at an average of from sixteen to seventeen stones, 
imperial, sinking the oifal ; and they are frequently found 
to weigh eighteen, nineteen, to twenty-one stones, having 
two or three inches of fat on the haunches. Their heads 
likewise are large in proportion, being of a much more 
vigorous growth than those of the Atholl or the Mar deer. 
One of the great advantages of the Black Mount forest is, 
that it forms the summit level of that part of the High- 
lands, and that it has equally extensive grounds on each 
side, both east and west; so that from whatever quarter 
the wind may blow, or from whatever side the deer may be 
disturbed, they seldom leave its bounds, but feed over either 
to the one side or the other. The hills being extremely 
rocky and precipitous, and there being only certain places 
by which the deer can pass from one corrie to another, the 
mode of killing by driving them is pretty certain. Stalk- 
ing is very difficult in most parts of the forest, owing to 
the very steep and rugged nature of the ground. It may 
be mentioned, as a proof of this, that some poachers who 
were pursuing deer in the forest in the winter some years 
ago lost one of their companions, who was killed by falling 
over a rock. 

This forest, like many others, has immemorially been 
believed to possess its white hind ; to which, among other 
evidence, the following extract refers, from the old family 
manuscript at Tay mouth, called the Black Book : — 

"Upon the thettene day of February, anno 1622, the 
king's majesty send John Skandebar, Englishman, with 
other twa Englishmen in his company, to see ane quhyt 
hynd that was in Corrichiba, upon the 22d day of February, 
anno 1622." 

In reference to this old story it may be mentioned that 
at this day there is a very light coloured deer in this forest, 
which all the foresters speak of as the white deer. 

If " Lord Reay's country " can boast of having given 
birth to the celebrated poet Rob Doun, the precincts of the 


" Black Mount " are not perhaps less famous for producing 
a bard who flourished in those rude regions about fifty or 
sixty years ago. His name is Duncan Macintyre ; some 
translations from his poems have obligingly been ob- 
tained and transmitted to me by the present Marquis of 

Thus I have it in my power to give a specimen of the 
beautiful imagery of one of these translations from the 
Gaelic, rendered in a more modern garb by the celebrated 
pen of Mr. D'Israeli, jun. 


Thy groves and glens, Bendouran, ring 

With the chorus of the spring : 

The blackcock chuckles in thy woods — 

The trout are glancing in thy floods — 

The bees about thy braes so fair, 

Are humming in the sunny air ; 

Each sight most glad, each sound most sweet, 

Amid thy sylvan pastures meet ; 

With the bloom of balmy May, 

Thy grassy wilderness is gay ! 

And lo, along the forest glade 

From out yon ancient pine wood's shade, — 

Proud in their ruddy robes of state, 

The new-born boon of spring, 
With antlered head and eye elate, 

And feet that scarcely fling 
A shadow on the downy grass, 
That breathes its fragrance as they pass, — 

Troop forth the regal deer : 
Each stately hart, each slender hind, 
Stares and snuffs the desert wind ; 
While by their side confiding roves 
The spring-born offspring of their loves — 
The delicate and playful fawn, 
Dapi)led like the rosy dawn, 

And sportive in its fear ! 

The mountain is thy mother, 
Thou wild secluded race : — 

* The inhabitants of the west still suppose that this mountain possesses 
the faculty of making known by strange sounds the approach of a storm, 
when, as they express it, " The spirit of the mountain shrieks." 


Thou hast no sh-e, or brother, 

That watches with a face 
Of half such fondness o'er thy life 
Of blended solitude and strife, 
As yon high majestic form 

That feeds thee on its grassy breast, 
Or guards thee from the bursting storm 

By the rude shelter of its crest ; — 
Or — when thy startled senses feel 

The presence of the unseen foe. 
And dreams of anguish wildly steal 

O'er trembling stag, and quivering doe — 
Conceals thee in her forests gloom. 
And saves from an untimely doom. 

Now roaming free : — for on the wind 

No sound of danger flies ; 
The fawn maj^ frolic with the hind, 

Nor fear a fell surprise ; 
Or — where some knoll its verdant head 

To clustering sunbeams shows, 
In graceful groups the herd may spread, 

And circling round, repose. 
Thus the deer their vigils keep 
Basking on Bendouran's steep ! 

A Poetical Translation of a Part of 

CUxMHA CHORIE CHEATHARCH;" or. The Lament for the 
Dell of Mist. 

By a HigJiland Gentleman. 

A TRODDEN waste each mountain side. 
Whence flowed the fountain's crystal tide : 
No more the grassy meads are seen. 
The lovely spots of living green : 
No primrose blows the silken foil ; 
No herb — no floweret decks the soil 
Where lay and rose the lovely hind ; 
Where oft she skipped and snuffed the wind. 
That hill seems now, its glory fled, 
Bare as the stance of busy trade ; 
Nor is the antlered monarch found — 
No more he leaps with lively bound — 
No more the hunter climbs the hill 
To urge the forest chase with skill ; 


But if there come a bri<,diter (lay- 
To spoil the stranger of his prey, 
The dell shall shine in native pride, 
Shall bloom and spread its glories wide ; 
The stag's majestic form shall rise 
Where towers yon mountain to the skies ; 
The roe-deer rest in shelt'ring wood — 
The trout dart lively through the flood — 
The hind the gentle fawn shall rear — 
The hills in loveliness appear ; 
Each long-lost beauty bloom again 
When moves the stranger from the glen. 


The forest of Glenartney, the property of Lord Willoughby 
d'Ercsby, is situated in a mountainous district of the same 
name in the parish of Comrie, and county of Perth, and 
contains about two thousand eight hundred Scots acres. 
In olden time, and even as late as 1746, it was of very 
considerable extent ; but since that period it has been 
greatly reduced, and, indeed, in some measure relinquished 
as to forest purposes. It is bounded on the north by the 
Glengoinan burn, which flows eastwards into the glen that 
derives its name from it ; and afterwards taking a northerly 
course, empties itself into the river Earn. On the east it is 
bounded by the Aultglass burn, which has its source in the 
mountains above Glengoinan, and is tributary to the Ruchill 
river. The Srathglen burn bounds it on the west, takes a 
southerly direction, and empties itself into the Ruchill, 
which forms the south boundary of the forest. The Ruchill 
itself rises near the high mountain Benvoirlich, about three 
miles west from the forest of Glenartney, and flows towards 
the south under the name of the Duchoran burn, until it 
receives many tributaries from the west and other mountain 
streams from the south, which rise in the hills above Doune, 
Dumblane, Szc. Thus supplied, it becomes a formidable 
river, and takes the name of Ruchill (as I understand) from 
its rough and rocky channel. In dry weather its waters 
are inconsiderable ; but in the stormv season it rushes with 


great turbulence into the Earn, and has been known to 
bring down sheep and exhausted deer along with its wreck. 

There are no lakes in this forest. The chief hills are as 
follow : — Sroin-na-Cabar, Coir-na-Maville, Ban-dhu-Boan- 
na-Scarnaich, Sroin-na-Broileag, Stuic-na-Cabuic, Beinn- 
Dearg, and Sroin-na-Hellurie. There is a sanctuary, or 
deer-preserve, in the centre of the forest, which declines 
on the south, but is steep on the west, north, and east. 

The grounds are stocked with about one hundred black 
cattle in the winter, and one hundred and fifty during the 
summer. The sheep were removed about seven years ago, 
as they were found to feed upon the best deer pasture, and 
that the shepherds disturbed the staojs with their dogs. 
There are perhaps from seven hundred to one thousand 
deer in the forest. About fifty yeld hinds and forty stags 
are killed annually, which appears to me to be a liberal 
proportion. As the deer are fed in the winter with corn 
and hay, they attain to a considerable size. What are called 
good deer weigh, when gralloched, from thirteen to fifteen 
stone, and some reach even to seventeen and eighteen stone. 
In this forest they use both greyhounds and col ley dogs for 
bringing wounded deer to bay ; but they seem to prefer 
the latter. 

" The nature of the ground (says Donald Cameron, the 
old forester) is good and healthy, interspersed with heath 
and rashes, and natural grass, and is beautiful to the eye of 
the traveller." Donald has been in the forest for thirty-five 
years, and has had the chief management of it nearly the 
whole of that period. 


So common were red deer throughout Scotland, that there 
are few, even of the Hebrides, in which their remains are 
not to be found ; and in many of these islands, to this day, 
they still exist in considerable numbers. Of the latter are 
Jura, Mull, Skye, and the long island which includes Lewis 
Harris, North and South Uist, and Benbecula. 


Whether Buchanan's derivation of the name Jura, from 
the Gothic word Deira, a stag, be correct, we do not pretend 
to say, but certain it is that in none of the Hebrides (in 
proportion to the extent) are deer to be found in such 
numbers. This island is about thirty miles in length, and 
five in breadth, and, with the exception of a few patches of 
arable land on the east coast, consists of one mountainous 
range extending throughout its whole length. By much 
the most lofty of this range are the Paps of Jura, which are 
situated towards the southern end of it. They are four in 
number, and rise from the sea on the western side, which is 
rugged and precipitous, and the resort of eagles and birds 
of prey of all sorts. The form of these hills is perfectly 
conical, and their elevation so abrupt, that for a considerable 
way from their tops no verdure is to be seen ; in fact, they 
consist chiefly of masses of loose stone. Their height is 
about 2,500 feet above the level of the sea, which washes 
their base. The view from the top of these hills is very 
extensive, for, when the atmosphere is clear, the Isle of 
Man, and the Isle of Skye are both visible. This island is 
surrounded by strong tides ; on the south is the rapid 
stream of the Sound of Islay ; and on the north the famous 
whirlpool of Corrivrechan. The island belongs to two 
proprietors, Mr. Colin Campbell of Jura, and Captain 
MacNeill the younger, of Colonsay, whose brother has 
favoured me with a relation of the mode of deer-coursing 
practised in Jura, and already recounted in these pages. 
The stock consists almost entirely of sheep. The number of 
deer are estimated at about five hundred. They have the 
whole range of the island, and thus wander from one end 
of it to the other. As there are but few inhabitants 
(scarcely a thousand souls), they are seldom disturbed, and 
have of late years greatly increased. 

From the contiguity of the sea, snow seldom lies for 
any length of time on these islands ; and as the deer often 
frequent the shore, and are excessively fond of the sea 
ware, on which they feed even in summer, they are never 
altogether deprived of food, and are, consequently, much 
better able to endure the rigours of winter than those in a 
more inland situation. 


The pasture in many of the valleys which intersect the 
island is very rich ; and though there is but little brush- 
wood, yet, from the excellence of the soil, great beds of fern 
are to be met with, growing to the height of six feet, in 
which the deer take refuge from the flies and the heat of 
the sun. 

The district of Tarbert, beginning at the north of the loch 
of that name, as far as the gulf of Corrivrechan, is the part 
of the island most suitable to deer ; the Paps are the next 
in estimation. 

If Tarbert were cleared of sheep, and a few forest deer 
turned out for a cross, it would probably prove one of the 
finest forests in Scotland, since the pasture is excellent, the 
ground favourable, and the winters are mild. 

When the great-grandfather of the present chief of Islay 
sold the island of Jura, he reserved certain forest rights, as 
well as others relating to the fisheries, and stipulated for a 
payment of six fat harts annually, and also for ten thousand 
oysters, as feu-duty for the holding. The chief of Islay has 
also a right of shooting over the island of Jura, and of 
taking with him such assistance as he may require. Deer, 
however, have been known to save him this short voyage, 
and to cross of their own accord to Islay, a distance of 
about a mile ; and, in particular, six hinds and one hart did 
so a few years ago, and returned again to Jura. This was 
probably in the rutting season, and thus the hart seems to 
have taken a pretty effectual mode of securing to himself 
peaceable possession of his little seraglio. 

The stags in this forest grow to a large size, and have 
been repeatedly killed of eighteen stones weight without 
the intestines. The present chief of Islay killed a hart of 
seventeen stones and a half Tron* weight, and in full 
season, whose horns were only sixteen inches from the 
points to the crown of the head. 

*,Tron weight is nearly the same as Dutch, viz., seventeen ounces and a 
half to the pound, and sixteen pounds to the stone ; accurately speaking, 
perhaps, it may be a trifle more, but it is little in use. 



There are about 230 deer in the Isle of Skye, which are 
the properly of Lord Macdonald ; they range over his forest 
near to Sconsar, and wander occasionally into the grounds 
of Macleod of Macleod, the other proprietor of the island. 
This herd has been represented to me as being in very bad 
plight, the full-grown stags not exceeding ten or twelve in 

Lord Macdonald has also deer in North Uish which cannot 
well be got at, or followed without the assistance of boats, 
the island being almost entirely flat, and intersected by arms 
of the sea in all directions, so that there are not two miles 
of continuous land, and the deer, when pursued, imme- 
diately take to the water. Their number here is about 100. 


Mr. Campbell of Monzie, whose property is situated at the 
head of Loch Etive, is forming a forest there, and has joined 
to his own lands (by lease) the old forest of Dalness, of 
which he is the hereditary keeper, but from which the deer 
have, of late years, been almost entirely expelled. By this 
arrangement his forest will march with Lord Breadalbane's 
for an extent of about six miles. Mention has already been 
made of a white hind referred to in the old family manu- 
script at Taymouth, called the Black Book, which existed 
in and near the forest of Corrichibah in the year 1622, and 
previously. It is not to be wondered at, that some supersti- 
tion should attach to an animal varying so much from the 
natural colour of its species. Thus a tradition has been 
handed down in the district of Loch Etive, that, should a 
white hind again appear, death by violence would ensue. 
A few years ago (I have not received the precise date), 
another white hind did make her appearance, and created a 
great sensation on account of the above tradition. In the 
depth of the winter in that year, some determined poachers 


faced the frost and snow, when the keepers might well be 
supposed to be absent from the hills, and made their dis- 
positions for driving and killing the deer. Having ascended 
the rugged steeps, and taken possession of the favourite 
passes, they sent forth their scouts to put the herd to them : 
these men communicated with the others, as is usual, by 
means of signals. As the day drew to a close, and the 
fading light gave a dubious appearance to the form of 
objects, one of the drivers who was proceeding from behind 
an eminence, brought his head above the sky line, and held 
up his arms as a signal that the deer were below. His 
companion in the pass, mistaking this figure for the head 
and horns of a stag, fired, and shot the unfortunate poacher 
in the head. As the whole party were engaged in an un- 
lawful act, they endeavoured to conceal the miserable 
manner in which the poor fellow came by his death; so 
they threw the body over the rocks, which were of a great 
height, by which means it was so mangled, that their 
account of the accident, by a fall from an eminence, was 
very generally believed. The sister of the sufferer, how- 
ever, in laying out the body, discovered the shot wound in 
the head, and hinted that all was not right. But as all the 
party had been engaged in poaching, and as the fatal 
occurrence was at all events an accident in which retri- 
butive justice was in no way concerned, the affair was 
hushed up, and is known, even at this day, but to a few. 

I now conclude the catalogue and description of the 
forests and principal deer-haunts in the north. There may 
be others with which I am unacquainted ; my omission to 
mention such (if, indeed, such do exist) will not, I trust, be 
imputed to my sense of their implied want of consequence, 
but rather to the real cause, namely, that of "pure ignorance 
on my part." 


It may be as well to mention^ that I consider the authority of the 
Richmond Park keeper, quoted in page 43, good only as far as it 
goes, and not as determining the longevity of deer in a wilder 
state, and under more natural circumstances. 

Mr. Herring, of the New Road, London, dealer in animals, 
communicated a fact to me that is somewhat at variance with the 
authorities of Buffon and Mr. John Crerer, as mentioned in the 
twenty-ninth page of this volume. A full-grown hart was cut 
by him, which dropped his horns afterwards, and had fresh ones 
the succeeding season of 1838. This hart I myself saw, but the 
new horns were misshapen and diminutive. 


Felaar Forest. 





Cairn Dairg. 


Hell's Hill. 

The King's Cairn. 

The Red Cairn. 
The White Cairn. 


Cairnicklechalm . 
Ben Yeg. 
Ben Vourich. 
Cairn Lia. 
Cairn Torkie. 

Ben-y-Gloe Forest. 

Goat's Hill. 

Little Hill. 
Boar's Hill. 
Grey Cairn. 
The Boar's Cairn. 





Top of Carrie Chastail. 

The Castle Hill. 

South Side of Tarff. 






Craig croachie. 



Sroin a Chro. 

Cairn-Maronach, or Cuirn-Marnich. 

Glas Mai. 


Ben Chat. 


Cairn Cherrie. 


Ben Derig. 


Ben Toaskernich. 

Craig na Helleir. 

The Grey Hill. 

The Gathering Knoll. 
The Crooked Hill. 
The Hanging Rock. 

The Glead's Cairn. 

Braemar Cairns. 
Grey Knoll. 
The Middle Hill. 
Hill of the Cat. 
Dun-coloured Knoll. 

The Red Hill. 

The Toad's Hill. 
The Eagle's Rock. 

Fiddlers Cairn. 

North Side of Tarff. 

Corrie na Craig. 

Malcrapan Laagh. 

Malna Cairn. 





Corrie Stock Guise. 

Cairnan II lair. 


Mai Glashea. 

Mai Corrie Yreak. 

Mai Corriechraggach. 

Mai dubh na Glashea. 

Ben Yreak. 


Corrie crom na damk. 

Druim Corrie na Rislechan. 

Druim na feachanouer. 

Druim Minagag. 

XJchff na Clasair. 

The Knoll of the Calves. 
The Knoll of the Cairn. 

The Knoll of the Blackstone. 
Knoll of the Cairn. 


Glen Garry Forest. 
Mai cham corrie. 
Sroin feachon. 
Drium Kirrichon. 
Mai ouer. 
Sroin a chlerick. 
Mai voulin. 
Mai Yrammie. 
Sroin Glasechorrie. 
Yi chosach. 
Sroin Craig an Loch. 


Glaish Mai east. 
Glaish Mai west. 
Monadh Lia. 
Corrie Mac Shee. 
Craig Chursech. 

South Side of Inverness Road. 

Tork, or The Duke of Atholl's Boar. 
Mai Corrie Yackie. 
Mai dourune. 

Ben Derig, top of Corrie Lunnie. 
Carkel Lock garrj. 
Mai na Letirch. 
Mona baan. 

Evidence relating to the Trial of Duncan Terig, alias Clerk, 
a7id Alexander Bain Macdonald, for the Murder of 
Sergeant Davies. 

Alexander M'Pherson alias M'Gillas, in Inverey, being solemnly 
sworn, purged of malice and partial council and interrogate, aged 
twenty-six years, unmarried, deposes, that in summer, 1750, he 
found lying in a moss bank on the hill of Christie, a human body, 

* I have given these names in the most correct local orthography I could 
obtain, but no two people spell all of them precisely in the same manner ; 
many of them, indeed, are so corrupted, that their very meaning is lost : 
this, perhaps, may have in a great measure originated from the uncomply- 
ing pronunciation of strangers. Thus they write Ben -derig, Ben Derg, and 
Ben dairg. In this dilemma I have thought it best to make use of the 
name most generally received. 


at least the bones of a human body, of which the flesh was mostly 
consumed, and he believed it to be the body of Sergeant Davies, 
because it was reported in the country that he had been murdered 
on that hill the year before ; that when he first found this body, 
there was a bit of blue cloth upon it pretty entire, which he took 
to be what is called English cloth ; he also found the hair of the 
deceased, which was of a dark mouse colour, and tied about with 
a black ribbon ; that he also observed some pieces of a striped 
stuff J and also found lying there a pair of brogues, which had 
been made with latches for buckles, which had been cut away 
by a knife ; that he, by help of his staff, brought out the body, 
and laid it upon plain ground, in doing whereof, some of the bones 
were separated one from another ; deposes, that for some days he 
was in doubt what to do, but meeting with John Grawar in the 
moss, he told John what he had found, and John bid him tell 
nothing of it, otherwise he would complain of the deponent to 
John Shaw of Daldownie, upon which the deponent resolved to 
prevent Grawar's complaint, and go and tell Daldownie of it 
himself; and which having accordingly done, Daldownie desired 
him to conceal the matter, and go and bury the body privately, 
as it would not be carried to a kirk unkent, and that the same 
might hurt the country, being under the suspicion of being a rebel 
country; deposes, that some few days thereafter, he acquainted 
Donald Farquharson, the preceding witness, of his having seen 
the body of a dead man in the hill, which he took to be the body 
of Sergeant Davies ; that Farquharson at first doubted the truth 
of his information, till the deponent told him that a few nights 
before, when he was in bed, a vision appeared to him, as of a man 
clad in blue, who told the deponent, " I am Sergeant Davies ; " 
but that before he told him so, the deponent had taken the said 
vision at first appearance to be a real living man, a brother of 
Donald Farquharson ; that the deponent rose from his bed, and 
followed him to the door, and then it was, as has been told, that 
he said he was Sergeant Davies, who had been murdered in the 
Hill of Christie, nearly about a year before, and desired the 
deponent to go to the place he pointed at, where he would find 
his bones ; and that he might go to Donald Farquharson, and 
take his assistance to the burying of him ; that upon giving 
Donald Farquharson this information, Donald went along with 
him, and finding the bones as he had informed Donald, and 
having then buried them with the help of a spade, which he, the 
deponent, had along with him; and for putting what is above 
deposed upon out of doubt, deposes, that the above vision was the 
occasion of his going by himself to see the dead body ; and which 
he did before he either spoke to John Grawar, Daldownie, or any 
other body ; and further deposes, that while he was in bed, 
another night, after he had first seen the body by himself, but 
had not buried it, the vision again appeared naked, and minded 
him to bury the body ; and after that he spoke to the other folks 


above mentioned, and at last complied, and buried the bones 
above mentioned : deposes, that upon the vision's first appearance 
to the deponent in his bed, and after going out of the door, and 
being told by it (the vision) that he was Sergeant Da vies, the 
deponent asked him who it was that had murdered him, to which 
it made this answer, that if the deponent had not asked him, he 
might have told him, but as he had asked him, he said he either 
could not, or would not, but which of the two expressions the 
deponent cannot say ; but at the second time the vision made its 
appearance to him, the deponent renewed the same question, and 
then the vision answered, that it was the two men now in the 
panel who had murdered him ; and being further interrogated in 
what manner the vision disappeared from him first and last, 
deposes, that after the short interviews above-mentioned, the 
vision at both times disappeared and vanished out of his sight 
in the twinkling of an eye ; and that in describing the panels by 
the vision above mentioned, as his murderers, his words were 
Duncan Clerk and Alexander Macdonald : deposes, that the 
conversation betwixt the deponent and the vision was in the 
Irish language : deposes, that several times in the harvest before 
the Martinmas, after seeing the said vision, he was applied to by 
Duncan Clerk, the panel, then to enter home to his service at that 
time, which accordingly he did, and staid in his service just a 
year ; and he being on the hill together with Duncan Clerk, 
spying a young cow, desired the deponent to shoot it ; and though 
Duncan did not bid him carry it home after it should be shot ; 
yet the deponent understood that to be the purpose, when Duncan 
desired him to shoot it, and which the deponent refused to do, 
adding, that it was such thoughts as these were in his head when 
he murdered Sergeant Davies; upon which some angry expressions 
happened between Duncan and the deponent ; but when the 
deponent insisted upon it that he could not deny the murder, 
Duncan fell calm, and desired the deponent to say nothing of that 
matter, and that he would be a brother to him, and give him 
every thing he stood in need of, and particularly would help him 
to stock a farm when he took one. At the time of deposing, the 
deponent exhibited a paper, which is marked on the back by the 
Lord Examiner, the deponent averring that he cannot write, 
and deposes, that the said paper was put into his hands by the 
said Duncan Clerk, who at the time told him it was a premium 
of twenty pounds Scots to hold his tongue of what he knew of 
Sergeant Davies : deposes, that while the deponent was in the 
panel Clerk's service, and about Lammas, 1751, he showed to the 
deponent a long green silk purse, and that he showed, also, to the 
deponent the contents which were in it, namely, sixteen guineas 
in gold, and some silver; and being interrogate what was the 
occasion of showing this purse and money to the deponent, 
deposes — it was one of two which he does not remember — either 
he had come from Aberdeen with money, which he had got for 


his wool, or was going to Badenoch to buy sheep ; deposes, that 
he saw upon the finger of Elizabeth Downie, the panel Duncan 
Clerk's wife, a yellow ring, which she told him was gold, with a 
plate on the outside of it in the form of a seal, and that he saw it 
on her finger six or eight weeks before her marriage ; and that 
after her marriage, she having one day taken it off her finger, 
he saw upon the inside of it a stamp, but what that stamp is he 
does not know; and being interrogate, deposes, that he had a 
suspicion that this ring was Sergeant Davies's ring, having heard 
it reported in the country that Sergeant Davies had such a ring 
upon his finger when he was murdered, but does not remember 
his having told his suspicion to anybody ; and being further in- 
terrogate, deposes, that since the panel Duncan's imprisonment, 
the deponent was solicited by Donald Clerk, the panel Duncan's 
brother, to conceal what he knew when he came to give evidence ; 
but this was after his having first solicited the deponent to leave 
the country, that he might not give evidence, and upon the de- 
ponent's saying he offered him nothing to leave the country with ; 
but then it was that Donald proposed his not giving true evidence, 
adding, that of every penny Donald was worth, the deponent 
should have the half; and being interrogated, at the desire of the 
jury, if ever he had asked payment of the twenty pounds con- 
tained in the above-mentioned paper produced by him, deposes, 
that he once did, shortly after the term of payment, to which 
Duncan answered that it would be as well to let it lie in his 
hands, with which he was satisfied ; and that he never asked pay- 
ment of the annual rent ; and being further interrogate, deposes, 
that before the deponent went home to the panel's service, at 
Martinmas, 1750, it was well known and reported in the country 
that the bones of the dead body found upon the above-mentioned 
hill had been buried by the deponent and Donald Farquharson, as 
also was the story of the vision or apparition, whereof the depon- 
ent had told Donald Farquharson j and being interrogate for the 
panel, deposes, that he not only told the story of the vision, or 
apparition to Donald Farquharson, as above mentioned, but that 
he also told it to John Grawar and Daldownie before he men- 
tioned it to Donald Farquharson ; deposes that there were folks 
living with him at the sheiling, when the vision appeared to him 
as above, but that he told it to none of them ; and adds that 
Isabel M^Hardie, in Inverey, a woman then in the sheiling with 
him, has told him since, that she saw such a vision as the depon- 
ent has above described, and has told him herself so much ; and 
upon the panel's interrogatory, deposes, that upon the vision's 
appearing to him, it described the place where he would find the 
bones so exactly, that he went within a yard of the place where 
they lay upon his first going out : and this is the truth, as he shall 
answer to God ; and deposes he cannot write. 

(Signed) Ja. Ferguson. 



Isabel M'Hardie of Inverey also gave solemn evidence of her 
having seen the apparition, having deposed " that one night, about 
four years ago, when she was lying at one end of the shelling, and 
Alexander Macpherson, who was then her servant, lying in the 
other, she saw something naked come in at the door, which 
frighted her so much, that she drew the clothes over her head ; 
that when it appeared, it came in a bowing posture ; and that 
next morning she asked Macpherson what it was that had troubled 
them the night before, to which he answered, she might be easy, 
for that it would not trouble them any more." 




Return to desk from which borrowed. 
This book is DUE on the last date stamped below. 



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